Neri, C. (2006), Leadership in small groups: Syncretic sociality and the genius loci, European Journal of Psychotherapy Counselling and Health, 8 (1), 33-46. ISSN: 1364-2537
Freud presupposed that the group has one leader and only one. The Freudian view was that for the members of the group the group leader fills the role of the superego ideal. Bion, on the other hand, makes a distinction between ‘work-group mentality’ and ‘primitive mentality’. Each of these two mentalities at work in the group has its own corresponding leader. The head of the work group is an operative leader, a leader of thought. The head of the basic-assumption group embodies and expresses regressive, uncontrollable negative drives. This leader’s individuality is peculiarly susceptible to obliteration by the basic-assumption group’s leadership requirements. I have chosen to give the name of genius loci to a third figure who fosters the group members’ sense of belonging and identity, encourages participation and sharing, and manages to grasp the affective tonality of what is happening in the group. In the small analytic group the genius loci refers to a figure analogous to a leader, working with, in opposition to or alongside the work-group leader.