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Anyone who, like McDougall, describes a panic as one of the plainest functions of the group mind,' arrives at the paradoxical position that this group mind does away with itself in one of its most striking manifestations.
In answer to this, I would point out that I do not ascribe a group mind to a crowd, nor do I regard a panic as a function of the group mind; the panic is rather a function of an instinct operating in an unorganised group. I admit that the death of a leader may contribute to bring about a panic; but I submit that the grounds of this are sufficiently obvious, that it requires no far-fetched theories for its explanation. The reasoning of Freud's paragraphs, following those in which he treats of panic, shows that his theory requires that, on the death of the leader, the group shall break out, not into panic, but into an orgy of mutual murder. For, he tells us, it is only the libidinous ties between the leader and the members and those between the members (which latter somehow are derivative from the former) which keep in check our narcissism; and narcissism is ruthless murderous self-seeking. That this, rather than panic, is the consequence of the death of the leader logically demanded by Freud's theory is clearly shown by his next section, which deals with the religious group.
"The dissolution of a religious group is not so easy to observe" (italics mine). And so here also Freud turns to literature and finds his evidence in a story which, if not a parody of a story, is little more, namely, the notorious sensation novel When It Was Dark. This novel, which achieved a great popular success, is offered us as evidence, because it was recommended by the Bishop of London, and because "it gave a clever and, as it seems to me, a convincing picture of such a possibility and its consequences." The whole passage deserves citation:
The novel, which is supposed to relate to the present day, tells how a conspiracy of enemies to the figure of Christ and of the Christian faith succeeds in arranging for a sepulchre to be discovered in Jerusalem. In this sepulchre is an inscription, in which Joseph of Arimathea confesses that for reasons of piety he secretly removed the body of Christ from its grave on the third day after its entombment and buried it in this spot. The resurrection of Christ and his divine nature are by this means disposed of, and the result of this archæological discovery is a convulsion in European civilisation and an extraordinary increase in all crimes and acts of violence, which only ceases when the forgers' plot has been revealed. The phenomenon which accompanies the dissolution that is here supposed to overtake a religious group is not dread, for which the occasion is wanting. Instead of it, ruthless and hostile impulses toward other people make their appearance, which, owing to the equal love of Christ, they had previously been unable to do1.
1 It happens that I have some slight acquaintance with the author of this precious story, and I venture to think that he would be immensely tickled to know that his successful effort to boil the domestic pot is now seriously cited as evidence in support of a scientific theory.
In the next chapter Freud briefly recognises the existence of leaderless groups. These, which might be supposed to offer some serious difficulty to a theory which makes the leader the centre of all group-ties, he brushes lightly aside with the suggestion that an idea, an abstraction, or even a common wish, may serve as a substitute for a leader, as an object or centre for our libidinous impulses.
Having arrived at the view that libidinous ties are constitutive of every group, Freud very properly turns to being-in-love in the ordinary sense of the words, in order to study the phenomena more intimately; and here he finds 'identification' to be the centre of interest. "Identification is the earliest and original form of emotional tie." It culminates in the cannibal, who,
as we know, has remained at this standpoint; he has a devouring affection for his enemies and only devours people of whom he is fond.
There follows an intricate discussion of love, in which the ego and the ego-ideal and other entities spring back and forth between the self and the object, the object becoming the self and the self the object, in a manner so puzzling to any but a hardened believer that I can make out of it only the following: Freud recognises, as I have done, two principal factors in normal sexual love, sensuality or lust on the one hand, tenderness on the other; but, whereas I have identified these two factors of sexual love with the impulse of the sex instinct and the impulse of the parental or protective instinct, respectively, Freud feels himself bound to derive both of them from the sexual libido. He describes the tender factor as a part of the sexual impulse inhibited in its aim. By what this part is inhibited is not very clear. Nor is it clear why, being inhibited, its nature should be transformed into its opposite. The natural result of obstruction to the sexual instinct would seem to be, as in all other cases, anger, as we see in animals. However, granting this transformation of one-half of the libido, we then have sexual love consisting essentially in one-half of the sexual libido working toward its sexual goal, but restrained by the other half, which, by inhibition, has been transformed into its opposite, tenderness. How much simpler to recognise that parental love is primarily the expression of a special instinct independent of and quite different from the sexual instinct, and to see in sexual love the play of these two impulses reciprocally modifying one another, and modified still further in most cases by other equally independent tendencies!1
That the parental and the sexual instincts are two quite distinct instincts seems perfectly clear to my mind. It is made clear by any impartial unbiased consideration of the facts of human behaviour and by any unbiased exercise of the despised art of
Freud seeks further light on love from hypnosis:
From being in love to hypnosis is evidently only a short step-the hypnotic relation is the devotion of someone in love to an unlimited degree, but with sexual satisfaction excluded....But, on the other hand, we may also say that the hypnotic relation is (if the expression is permissible) a group formation with two members.... Hypnosis is distinguished from a group formation by this limitation of number, just as it is distinguished from being in love by the absence of directly sexual tendencies. In this respect it occupies a middle position between the two.
Hypnosis contains, then, the key to the crowd. The reader at this point begins to think he is near the end of his journey. A group is a crowd hypnotised by its leader, and to be hypnotised is to be in love, to have one's sexual libido fixated upon the hypnotiser in two halves, one half inhibited, the other half uninhibited. The group is a crowd in love with its leader, and suggestibility is a consequence of being in love. But the explanation of suggestion is not so simple.
There is still a great deal in it which we must recognise as unexplained and mystical. It contains an additional element of paralysis derived from the relation between someone with superior power and someone who is without power and helpless.
So the indefatigable Freud sets off on another tack to find the grounds of this further unexplained and mystical element. He begins by examining Mr Trotter's view which finds the explanation of all suggestion in the herd instinct. He rejects this view on the ground, first, that "it can be made at all events probable that the herd instinct is not irreducible, that it is not primary in the same sense as the instinct of self-preservation and the sexual instinct." Secondly, on the ground that it explains the group, while assigning no essential place or function to a leader; and Freud has already asserted that the leader is the essential key to the group. Freud then makes the following astonishing tour de force, and, by it, brings us back to the original position from which he set out.
Gemeingeist, esprit de corps, group spirit,' etc., does not belie its derivation from what was originally envy....Social justice means that we deny ourselves many things so that others may have to do without them as well, or, what is the same thing, may not be able to ask for them. This demand for equality is the root of social conscience and the sense of duty.
But what then is envy, which is thus identified with a demand for equality and as the root of all the social virtues? Is envy the expression of some special instinct? No, its explanation is to be found in the fact
introspection. But, if possible, it is shewn still more clearly by observation of animal behaviour. In most animals the two instincts operate quite independently of one another and at different periods of the life cycle. Only dogmatic adhesion to a theory, which took form as a hasty assumption and which has never been revised, could blind Prof. Freud and his disciples to this truth and drive them to such a fantastic derivation of tenderness as Freud proposes in the pages under review.
that man is not, as Trotter asserts, a herd animal, but "rather a horde animal, an individual creature in a horde led by a chief." Now, the characteristics of a crowd imply regression of its members "to a primitive mental activity, of just such a sort as we should be inclined to ascribe to the primal horde. Thus the group appears to us as a revival of the primal horde. Just as primitive man virtually survives in every individual, so the primal horde may arise once more out of any random crowd."
Thus the long trail leads back to 'Totem and Taboo' and the horde father. This primal superman "had prevented his sons from satisfying their directly sexual tendencies; he forced them into abstinence and consequently into the emotional ties with him and with one another which could arise out of those of their tendencies that were inhibited in their sexual aim. He forced them, so to speak, into group psychology. His sexual jealousy and intolerance became in the last resort the causes of group psychology." Now we see why, in the opening chapter, Freud wrote of the illusion that is the condition of all group-life, the illusion on the part of the members that they are equally loved by the leader. For the primal horde father does not love his sons; he is merely consumed and motivated by sexual jealousy against them. "The illusion that the leader loves all of the individuals equally and justly...is simply an idealistic remodelling of the state of affairs in the primal horde, where all of the sons knew that they were equally persecuted by the primal father, and feared him equally"; and where the primal father, by forbidding them all sexual gratification, forced them to love him and to love one another. This is described as a process of "recasting upon which all social duties are built up."
This same recasting process explains "what is still incomprehensible and mysterious in group formations-all that lies hidden behind the enigmatic words 'hypnosis' and 'suggestion."
recall that hypnosis has something positively uncanny about it; but the characteristic of uncanniness suggests something old and familiar that has undergone repression. Let us consider how hypnosis is induced. The hypnotist asserts that he is in possession of a mysterious power which robs the subject of his own will, or, which is the same thing, the subject believes it of him. This mysterious power...must be the same that is looked upon by primitive people as the source of taboo, the same that emanates from kings and chieftains, and makes it dangerous to approach them (mana). The hypnotist, then, is supposed to be in possession of this power; and how does he manifest it? By telling the subject to look him in the eyes; his most typical method of hypnotising is by his look. But it is precisely the sight of the chieftain that is dangerous and unbearable for primitive people, just as later that of the Godhead
is for mortals.
By the measures that he takes, then, the hypnotist awakens in the subject a portion of his archaic inheritance which had also made him compliant toward his
parent....What is thus awakened is the idea of a paramount and dangerous personality, toward whom only a passive-masochistic attitude is possible, toward whom one's will has to be surrendered... the uncanny and coercive characteristics of group formations, which are shown in their suggestion phenomena, may therefore with justice be traced back to the fact of their origin from the primal horde. The leader of the group is still the dreaded primal father; the group still wishes to be governed by unrestricted force; it has an extreme passion for authority; in le Bon's phrase, it has a thirst for obedience1. The primal father is the group ideal, which governs the ego in the place of the ego-ideal. Hypnotism has a good claim to being described as a group of two; there remains as a definition for suggestion...a conviction which is not based upon perception and reasoning but upon an erotic tie.
we have come to the conclusion that suggestion is a partial manifestation of the state of hypnosis, and that hypnosis is solidly founded upon a predisposition which has survived in the unconscious from the early history of the human family.
Here we have come to the end of the long and tortuous trail. The remainder of the book restates some of the positions reached and deals with some other hardly related problems.
Let me try to summarise the complex theory as fairly as possible in a few lines. The main factor in group life is suggestion. The fundamental problem of Group Psychology, therefore, is the nature of suggestion. Suggestion is always of the same nature as the suggestion of hypnosis; and the study of hypnosis shows that suggestion depends upon a peculiar emotional attitude of the patient to the hypnotiser. This attitude results from the re-animation (by regression) of an atavistic survival, an attitude acquired by the race during the long period in which men lived in the primal horde, a horde dominated by a brutal horde-leader fiercely jealous of his sexual rights over all the women. This horde-leader forced all his fellow-males to repress their sexual urgings; their repressed libido then became fixated on him, so that they loved him, and falsely believed that he loved them, at the same time that they feared him for his brutal domination and plotted to slay him. When any man lives as a member of a group and is subject to group influences, when he accepts the traditional morality and developes the virtues of the good and patriotic citizen, it is because some leader throws him back from his hard-won individuality, forces upon him an atavistic regression to the complex attitude proper toward the leader of the primitive horde, so that he
1 How or why the persecuted sons of the primal horde father acquire a passion for being persecuted is nowhere explained. Even if we accept Freud's dictium that to persecute a man and to force him to deny himself all sexual gratification is the surest way to earn his love, it is not obvious that the victim will at the same time develop a passionate desire to be persecuted, or that he will transmit this desire to his remote descendants. But there seems to be no limit to the tasks imposed by Prof. Freud on the credulity of his disciples. Towards them he is as ruthless as his prototype, the primal horde-father.