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Int J Group Psychother. 2015 Jan;65(1):89-107. doi: 10.1521/ijgp.2015.65.1.88.

There's always a villain to punish: group processes contributing to violence and its remediation.

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Clinical Associate Professor, Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University.


This paper considers the widespread use of violent metaphors, such as "combat" and "war," to represent the current social, psychological, and political problems within the United States. I apply Lakoff and Johnson's (1980) thesis that metaphor shapes thought, policy, and behavior. I examine how use of such metaphors inclines the national consciousness toward violence and punishment for it. In addition, I discuss shame and humiliation as psychological precursors of violence, particularly as these play out in the exclusion and extrusion via group scapegoating of individuals and whole groups from active participation in an esteemed or powerful other group. Included within the concept of "violence" are those harmful social policies that invalidate the experiences of disempowered people within the United States. I consider the role of group processes in resolving the injuries wrought by violence, particularly as these operate within such restorative justice projects as the Glencree Ex-Combatants Programme in Northern Ireland. Lessons emerge from restorative justice projects installed internationally for ameliorating conflict within and between "victim" groups in the United States.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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