Erasure, intersectionality, and neutrality

The key question raised in this article is: What is the role of the group analyst in responding to societal injustices, othering, and negation as they arise within a therapy group? For our purposes we might ask: What is the role of the consultant, researcher, teacher, or manager in responding to the same? Further, can we have any role at all if we have not reflexively examined and fully articulated the intersectional nature of our own positionality? And, what is the cost if we don’t?

The author highlights the aim of group analysis as providing “a social context where relational styles that are problematic can be worked out in a context that sustains them, enabling an increased ability to socialize and to mature” (p. 504). This is something we cannot do, they might argue, if we defensively maintain the classical position of neutrality.

Instead, we must understand our position relative to the psychosocial unconscious, the position of the individuals within the group, and the position of the group as a whole. A key feature of this understanding is the intersection of multiple identities within one’s own, and others’, standpoint – and the subjective experience of “multiple othering” (p. 499). These twin ideas, positionality and intersectionality, form the basis for the author’s critique of analytic neutrality (p. 500). The argument is that “clinical positionality is inescapable” (p. 504) and our theories and techniques are necessarily value laden.

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