Primary Maternal Preoccupation in the Group Analytic Group

Yael Doron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Foulkes and his followers often compared the analytic group to a mother and the conductor to a father. In this article I intend to focus on the maternal characteristics of the group analyst, looking in particular at the 'primary maternal preoccupation'-a phenomenon that Winnicott identified as existing in mothers of newborn infants. I believe that this phenomenon exists also among conductors during the first stages of the life of a new group and also older groups, in the period directly after adding new members. In addition I will claim that just as the Winnicottian mother needs support and containment from her environment, so too the group analyst looks for supervision to help him hold and process his anxiety and aggression. The supervision enables the conductor to calm down and then bring a measure of calm to the turbulent group in the first stages of its existence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-29
Number of pages13
JournalGroup Analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • development
  • group analysis
  • initial phase
  • primary maternal preoccupation
  • stages
  • supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Primary Maternal Preoccupation in the Group Analytic Group'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this