The Psychodynamics of Lynch Mobs: Grouping, Ganging or Lynching

Article


Stevenson, S. 2020. The Psychodynamics of Lynch Mobs: Grouping, Ganging or Lynching. Group Analysis.
AuthorsStevenson, S.
Abstract

This article engages with human groupings when they are operating at their very worst. These are human groupings enacting a particularly insidious, enduring and specific set of ‘othering’ dynamics that occur within and between in-groups and out-groups. This is known as lynching and these vicious and destructive human groupings are known as ‘lynch mobs’. I attempt to bring a psychodynamic lens to explore the complex issues that constitute the particular group dynamics enacted by ‘lynch mobs’ that usually target members of marginalized communities. I consider the meaning of the assault in the context of white supremacy and, whilst foregrounding race in the discussion, recognising that members of other marginalised groups such as gay men and women are often lynched. The article shows how psychodynamic ideas can contribute to our understanding of this most horrific and inhumane phenomena, and can provide clinicians with some conceptual tools to manage the myriad of complex issues related to lynching and how it presents currently. Can lynching dynamics be compared and contrasted with bullying and scapegoating dynamics and, if so, can they be paralleled and operate more subtly and interpersonally in our psychotherapy groups and within our organisations and work teams? If so, do we have the theoretical and conceptual skills to work with them? I argue that there is now more than ever a need to remain relevant to the diverse and often-marginalised communities we serve and that we must develop our theories and practices to address such phenomena. To do this requires group analysts and, indeed, all clinicians to urgently scrutinize and develop theories and techniques in working with these very dangerous othering dynamics in our practices and clinics. A lack of intervention equates to by-standing or turning a blind eye, which is a significant factor in lynching dynamics, and a complicit collusion with the traumatisation of marginalised communities.

JournalGroup Analysis
ISSN0533-3164
Year2020
PublisherSAGE Publications
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Dec 2020
Deposited16 Dec 2020
Copyright holder© 2020 The Author
Additional information

As accepted for publication in Group Analysis: Stevenson, S. (2020). 'The Psychodynamics of Lynch Mobs: Grouping, Ganging or Lynching', Group Analysis, (In Press). https://doi.org/

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