di Neuropsichiatria, Psicoterapia e Gruppo Analisi
2008 - 2009

"The italian social unconscious"

Rocco Antonio Pisani, Aldo Lombardo
Chairman Dr. Domenico Surianello
(t) [ Group analysis is based on the relationship between the individual unconscious and the social unconscious continually interacting in a dynamic reciprocal influencing

Individual unconscious concerns unconscious individual phenomena: unconscious instinctual drives, defence mechanisms and repressed unconscious.

Social Unconscious is very complex . Social means mutual relations of human beings (Oxford Dictionary), that is what they share at biological and cultural level. It’s a question of interaction between nature and culture.

In my opinion Social unconscious concerns unconscious phenomena, i.e. archetypes of the collective unconscious, social defence mechanisms and social repressed unconscious.

There is a deep relationship between the vertical intrapersonal structure of the individual and that horizontal interpersonal and transpersonal of the sociocultural context

The social unconscious precedes the individual, but they are in a mutual, continuous and dynamic relationship . In the Foulkes’ words group and individual are complementary.

The Social Unconscious contains biological and cultural models that cannot be separated but are constantly interacting, just as the social unconscious and the individual unconscious are constantly interacting. The models range from a pre-oedipal instinctual model to an oedipal model of parents and siblings (family culture) to archetypal models.

The universal behavioural archetypal forms of the Collective Unconscious assume particular expressions in different social contexts in accordance with the historical, geographical, socio-political, climatic characteristics, etc., peculiar to those contexts and become part of the Social Unconscious. Expressions we could call archetypal representations. The archetypes of the collective unconscious interact with cultural phenomena that allow its expression through images and archetypal representations typical of that particular social context.

In the words of Dennis Brown (2001), it is useful to think of the archetyps of the collective unconscious of the primordial level of communication of Foulkes’ matrix as unconsciously influencing the particular societies which each individual , family and social group belong to, as variants of universal images and patterns of relationship

The cultural models, typical of the culture of a given society, in my words the “Unconscious Collective”, are the expression of social defence mechanisms and of the repressed social unconscious and are revealed through usages, customs, traditions, legends, myths, folklore, rules, superstitions, religion and so on.

According to Jones (1951), customs, habits and popular tradition are the expression of the so-called 'survival of the unconscious', the vestiges of certain archaic instincts in the individ­ual and the species which are released through the formation of complicated forms of compromise that act exclusively as disguises..

The “unconscious collective”is a concept similar to that of the

“‘shared unconscious’ which emphasize the interpersonal, the intersubjective and socialization in general (Zinkin,1979). It is also similar to the ‘cultural unconscious’ introduced by the American psychoanalyst Ethel Spector-Person (1992).” (Hopper E.,2001: 12. ; See also Weinberg H. 2007: 315).

Collective unconscious belongs to the species, “unconscious collective” belongs to a culture with its own features.

Main contributions to the study of the Social Unconscious

We could say that Freud’s primary group, Jung’s collective unconscious and Bion’s basic assumptions are part of the Social Inconscious.

To this we can add the Hopper’s fourth basic assumption in the unconscious life of groups: Incohesion: Aggregation/Massification or ‘(I: A/M)’ (Hopper E.,1997).

Social Unconscious is included in the concept of Foulkes’ matrix:

“… foundation matrix, based on the biological properties of the species, but also on the culturally firmly embedded values and reactions. These have been developed and transmitted, especially in the nuclear family, in the social network, class, etc and have been.maintained or modified by the intimate plexus in which the person now moves”

(Foulkes S.H. 1975:131-32).

‘… the group-analytic situation, while dealing with the unconscious in the Freudian sense, brings into operation and perspective a totally defferent area of which the individual is equally unaware. Moreover, the individual is as much compelled and modelled by these colossal forces as by own id and defends himself as strongly against their recognition without being aware of it, but in quite different ways and modes. One might speack of a social or interpersonal unconscious

(Foulkes S.H. 1964:52).


He summarises Foulkes’ concepts of the matrix as a network of relations and communication on four different levels: from the level of reality to the deepest level of the collective unconscious and archetypes.

“…at these levels, especially levels 2,3 and 4, we shall see that we need to allow for process that involve not only the individual ‘unconscious’ of classical psychoanalysis, but also processes that occur between people and through people, i.e.interpersonal and transpersonal processes…” (Brown D.,2001:30).

“…we have used group analysis through experiential large and small groups to study the unconscious culturally-determined part of the personality. We have shown how powerful is the need to belong, and how strong is the support to identity of familiar culture, custom, language, religion, food and sense of humor”. (Brown D., 2001:31).

Hopper E.

For Hopper

The concept of the social unconscious refers to the existence and constraints of social, cultural and communicational arrangements of which people are unaware… Although social constraints are sometimes understood in terms of myth, ritual and custom such constraints are in the realm of the ‘unknown’ to the same extent as the constraints of instincts and fantasies, especially in societies with high status rigidity. However, ‘constraints’ is not meant to imply only ‘restraint, ‘inibition’, or ‘limitation’, but also ‘facilitation, development” (Hopper E.,2001:10).

“… people are affected profoundly by social and cultural facts and forces, and such constraints are largely unconscious at all phases of ‘life trajectories’.”

(Hopper E., 2001:14).

Dalal F.

For Dalal the dicotomy between the social and individual doesn’t exist.

“…a particular individual is born into a pre-existing social milieu; thus the ’I’ of the individual must of necessity be built out of the existing ‘we’ “ (Dalal F. 2001:547)

“…not only is the social integral to the unconscious, the unconscious is constituted by social at every level”

( Dalal F., 2001:554)

Weinberg H.

For Weinberg

the social unconscious is the co-constructed shared unconscious of members of a certain social system such as community,society, nation or culture. It include shared anxieties,fantasies, defenses,myths and memories” (Weinberg H. 2007:312)

He takes into account the four levels and the transgenerational aspect of the Foulkes’ matrix

“These four levels of communication exist in small groups, as well as larger groups including social ones”…

“Where is the level of the Social Unconscious?” one answer: add another level to the four.

“ another solution is to assume that the Social Unconscious exists in each of these levels, with the first one serving as a background…” “When analysing the social unconscious we should relate to all these levels and look for unconscious hidden aspects shared by members of a social system at each level” (Weinberg H 2007:310)

“ Special consideration exploring the Social Unconscious …are ‘chosen trauma’… memories, perceptions,expectations,wishes, fears and other emotions related shared images of the historical catastrophe and the defences against them may become an important identity marker…and construct its social unconscious years, even centuries later… the social unconscious re-enacts the past”.(Weinberg H. 2007:319)

Social Unconscious of Central-Southern Italy: the Foundation Matrix.

Speaking of the Social Unconscious we have to take into account the content of it:

The Social Unconscious of Italy concerns the Foundation Matrix of this country.

My research was done mainly in Central-Southern Italy and it is based on a continual correlation between cultural anthropology and my experience of the Median Group I conducted, with weekly sessions, from 1991 to 2003 at “La Sapienza” University of Rome.

For de Maré (de Maré P., 1989, 1990, 1991) ‘group culture is group mind’. There are three cultures:

  1. Bioculture is equivalent to the id of the individual mind. It consists of behavioural patterns based on the fully shared stage of psychosexual development. That is, it includes pre-oedipal (oral, anal, phallic) and oedipal levels, and the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Thus we have cultures of an oral, anal, phallic or genital nature.

2. Socioculture is equivalent to the superego of the individual mind (repressing, frustrating , anti-libidinal). It consist of ideologies, morality laws, values, ideals etc.

  1. Idioculture is equivalent to the ego of the individual mind. It cultivates the ego and the self.


In my opinion the bioculture, socioculture and idioculture of immature cultural contexts are part of the Social Unconscious.

The Individual id is an expression of the Bioculture, the superego is an expression of the Socioculture and the individual ego of the Idioculture.

The Idioculture of the Foundation Matrix has to take into account the instinctive drives of Bioculture on the one hand and of Socioculture and external reality on the other. The conflict between Bioculture, Idioculture and Socioculture is largely unconscious and belongs to the Social Unconscious.

The individual disturbances are expression of the social disturbances, of a disturbed and distorted communication matrix. “The infantile neurosis is expression of the social neurosis”. This network is created and maintained by immature defence mechanisms, i.e. unconscious. Defences are interactive mechanisms learned in the first social contacts, in a group context. Individual defence mechanisms, the attribute of the ego, are an expression of social defence mechanisms, namely of the Idioculture ( that has to take into account the Socioculture) responsible for disguising and distortions in communications (psychic symptoms and behavioiur patterns).

.The social ego uses different defence mechanisms according to the communication level of the Foundation Matrix. Repression, reactive formation, regression, conversion, somatization are more characteristic of neuroses. Denial, splitting and projection, projective and introjective identification are more characteristic of psychoses.

The repressed social unconscious of Central-Southern Italy is expressed through biological and cultural models that range from pre-oedipal and oedipal models to archetypal models and are manifested through usages, customs, rites, folklore, etc., typical of this context.

My first observations were published in 1990.

They relate to a group of around 1000 patients whom I observed at the Outpatients Department of the Department of Neurological Sciences, of the “La Sapienza” University of Rome.

They are patients from Latium and other central-southern regions.

I will cite the main observations taken from this work::

“There is a certain uniformity, almost like a cultural stereo­type, in the manifestations of symptoms …In this group of patients the neurotic manifestation most fre­quently observed (in more than half the cases) was the hypochondriac syndrome, expressed especially in somatic forms (dizziness, tachycardia, breathing difficulties, feeling of pressure on the chest, tremors and so on) experienced with the classical charac­teristics of pathophobic alarm (fear of cancer, heart attack, cerebral stroke, death and so on)…

In the Italian central southern culture the fertility theme is wide­spread and many rituals are based on it. In these, besides the fears relating to insecurity about reproductive potency in individuals and in surrounding nature, the hope of increasing such reproductive capacity is shown by means of propitiatory rituals. In rural com­munities where agriculture is man's main life support, the implements of agricultural work take on the significance of repro­ductive symbols and the earth takes on the property of a maternal figure. Many of the propitiatory rituals are performed in the fields and recall the enactment and symbolism of the act of fertilization.

In the social-cultural context which is common to the central southern provinces, therefore, socioeconomic problems seem to blend in and become intertwined at various levels with some dominant cultural aspects such as those relating to fertility and impotence, to magic-orientated thinking and, in greater depth, to dependence on an archaic maternal figure.

In an analytic connotation, hypochondriac alarm, so widespread in these agricultural communities and expressed in the form of an exaggerated fear of illness and death, can be seen as the manifes­tation of a common and unconscious sense of guilt, together with fear of punishment in the form of impotence or sterility. The customs and habits are therefore produced by the wish to free human personality from a sense of guilt, from the danger of punish­ment and misfortune, and to restore the natural gift of potency and fertility (Jones, 1951). At a deeper level it can be related to the distress of separation from the mother. The hypochondriac-depres­sive form can be correlated to a more severe repression of the instinctive drives of a more rigid individual and group super-ego, as the expiatory rites and rituals would seem to suggest “ (Pisani R.A. 1990: 404-407).

So the fertility theme is widespread and many rituals are based on fears relating to insecurity about reproductive potency in individuals and in surrounding nature. At the deepest levels the dominating figure is the mother, often felt to be omnipotent and hyperprotective .

The mother is the dominant figure in the field of custom, ceremony and iconographic images, often being felt to be 'archaic', that is, experienced by the child as the omnipotent and hyperprotective wet-nurse, but also evil and devouring. An image that expresses this mother is offered by a hermaphroditic sculpture that dates back to proto-historical times and is kept in the archaeological museum of Cagliari: the 'Mediterranean Mother' (Pisani R.A., 1993 a, 2000 b)

“Rites and rituals with a self-aggressive meaning are common and many traditions come close to being masochistic, justified by the expiation of supposed guilts.

Religious ceremonies are centred chiefly on the Madonna cult which, as E. Jones (1951) points out, is always seen as a mother.

At the shrine of the Madonna of the Arch, in Campania, the Madonna has vindictive fame. People go there every year on pilgrimage beating their breasts, barefoot and bleeding.

The same at the procession of “Madonna dell’Assunta” in Guardia Sanframonti ( region of Benevento) every seven years.

All over the Central-Southern Italy there is a clear predominance of evil female characters, “witches”, over male sorcerers, who usually typify the figure of the “healer”.

Witches are the devil's mistresses, evil, perpetrators of infanticide, murderesses.

A typical exorcismal rite was practiced in Sardinia up to a few years ago : the ritual of the argia,a small black female spider, archetypal representation of the Terrible Mother who devours her children.

All over the Central-Southern ltaly they often resort to magic rites of propitiaton and exorcism: recitation of magic formulae, carrying out ritual acts, putting an object (such as keys, horseshoes, horns, spades) behind the door or under the bed, to exorcize dangers to themselves, to others or to crops.

The group culture of Italy is based on archetypal and cultural phenomena, already explored according to the four levels of relations and communications of the Foulkes’ matrix.

  1. Current Level

This is the level of external, socio-economic reality; a long-standing economic tradition based on agriculture and family self-sufficiency, a tradition which now seems to be partially modified by emigration,urbanization, and so on, these latter being factors which can be seen,inter alia, as destabilizing and menacing, owing to the loss of family support and protection.

  1. Transference Level

This is the level of mature object relation; group equals family, father, mother, siblings. It is the level of Oedipal problems with their related guilt feelings and castration anxiety, expressed on the one hand by usages, customs and propitiatory rites of fecundation and reproduction and by punitive and expiatory rites on the other.

  1. Projective Level

The projective level is that at which the mechanisms of denial, splitting, projection, introjection, projective and introjective identification operate. It corresponds to the most primitive magic-narcissistic relations with partial objects. Aggressive, destructive oral and anal parts are projected and introjected with magic aspects and separation anxieties. In the new-born child's dependence on the omnipotent mother M. Klein (1957) individuates the cause of the envy inherent in every human being. Greed, jealousy act as a corollary to the envy against which primordial defence mechanisms come into play with persecutory anxieties, guilt and depression.

The term 'envy' comes from the Latin invidere: to look upon with suspicion, malignantly, and with hatred, that is, to cast the evil eye. These mechanisms are reciprocal and multipersonal. All the rites and ceremonials,based on the evil eye, bad luck, sorcery, enchantment and so on, seem to be an expression of the projection of destructive envy; just as spells, exorcism, and so on are the expression of the attempt to defend oneself magically from this. On an oral level, the expiatory ceremonials would seem to be the expression of the guilt feeling con­nected to envious destructiveness.

4. Primordial Level

This is the level of the collective unconscious and of archetypes, as expanded upon and developed by R. Usandivaras (1982, 1986). On this deepest level of the foundation matrix of Southern Italy the archetype of the primordial Great Mother has an important role. In a certain sense the matrix of the large group of Southern Italy is already of itself this archetype.

The Great Mother appears in her positive version as the good mother who feeds her child, the Virgin Mary, the good Mother Earth who nourishes, the Motherland and so on; in the negative version she is the arid, greedy and devouring Mother Earth, the sea that swallows up sailors, witches that kill children, the spider that weaves her web to capture and devour, and so on.

In Southern Italy the mother-son relationship is based on the mother's giving the son food, warmth and protection and on the son's devotion towards the mother. It is an ambivalent bond, potentially destructive: love and devotion for giving food and protection, and hatred for its dependence.

The archetype of the positive Great Father, who helps the child to separate from the mother, is often secondary or clearly dominated by the negative, diabolical and destructive aspect that limits and prevents the expression of individual possibilities.

Most rites of exorcism seem to be directed to the protection from harm caused magically by evil persons, mostly of the female sex: witches, sorceresses and enchantresses. Perhaps it is significant that these exorcismal rites are performed mostly by males: magicians, priests, healers, and so on, just as amulets to protect oneself from sorceresses, the evil eye, and so on are objects with phallic sym­bolism: keys, nails, horns, teeth, horseshoes, and such, or characters such as dwarfs, gnomes, Punch, substances that are symbols of sperm, such as salt, are often used, or the gesture is made of touching the testicles to ward off spells.

In an analytic connotation, hypochondriac alarm, so widespread in these agricultural communities, can be seen as the manifestation of a common and unconscious sense of guilt, together with fear of punishment in the form of impotence or sterility. The customs and habits are therefore produced by the wish to free human personality from a sense of guilt, from the danger of punishment and misfortune, and to restore the natural gift of potency and fertility (Jones E., 1951). At a deeper level, and closely connected to the above, it can be related to the dependence on the mother figure.

Dependence on the mother, deeply rooted in the culture of Southern Italy, expresses itself in two ways: fear of separation and of loss and fear of the devouring fusion. The anxiety of separation is perceived as panic and fragmentation, fusional anxiety as assimilation and annihilation

The archaic deep and ancestral bond with the mother signifies sub­mission and hatred towards her because it prevents separation. Fusional anxiety is concerned with the negative and aggressive aspect of the archetype of the Great Mother which in this sense is expressed in the form of a witch who devours children”.

(Pisani R.A., 1993 a:: 240-248 )

Therefore woman is seen as a diabolical object, a danger to be exorcised.

Attack against woman is connected to man’s fear of being deprived of his virility, made passive, squashed and feminised. For the male child possessiveness is at the origin of his passivity and for the female child at the origin of a vicious circle first of masochist submission and later of sadistic identification. The mother woman makes the boy child passive and he, in order to defend himself from this passiveness, will later try to make the woman passive by making her a succubus. The woman succubus of the father and the husband becomes the child’s nightmare with a possessiveness called “motherly love”.

This vicious circle is at the origin of the conflict between the sexes, it belongs to the Social Unconscious and it is clearly expressed by rites, ceremonies and so on. (Pisani R.A. 1993 a, b)

We can say that the Social Repressed Unconscious of the Foundation Matrix of Central-Southern Italy is expressed through the oedipal, pre-oedipal and archetypal level (bioculture) with respective defence mechanisms (idioculture, socioculture) (level 2, 3 and 4 of the Foulkes’ Matrix).

. Guilt feelings and castration anxieties (socioculture), that are expressed through insemination, reproduction and expiatory rites, belong to the Transference Level, the oedipal level. On this level, the most common shared defence mechanisms are repression, reactive formation, regression, conversion and somatization.

Guilt feelings and separation-individuation anxieties (socioculture) mainly linked to oral and anal drives, which are expressed by greed, envy and jealously, belong to the Projective Level, the pre-oedipal level. They are expressed through exorcistic magic rites. On this level primordial defence mechanisms with persecutory anxieties, guilt and depression come into play: denial, splitting, projection, projective and introjective identification.

On the Primordial Level dependence on the primordial Great Mother is the dominant archetype. In her positive version the Great Mother appears as the good mother who feeds and supports her children and in her negative version as the arid, greedy and devouring mother.

On this level shared mechanisms are based on phallic defences through exorcism and magic rites.

The greatest expression of this cultural model is provided by the Mafia phenomenon.

“The Mafia phenomenon originates in a land where symbiosis with the Great Mother of the Mediterranean culture is very strong: where the fundamental cell of society is the family, which is organised around a maternal figure, with its own private code, in conflict with the public norms of the State” (Di Lorenzo S., 1996, 27).

In Sicily the family has a fundamental role. It offers protection and security in exchange for submission, fidelity, obedience and dependence. Every betrayal and transgression is punished severely even with death. Rules are imposed by the family in opposition to the laws of the State. The individual’s attachment to the family makes the individual dependent and incapable of separating from it. The maternal culture forces children to a state of dependence on the family. Fidelity and obedience suffocate individuality. Blackmail and the threat of death prevent its attainment.

In the Mafia world the family of origin and the Mafia ‘family’ nearly always coincide. The Mafia Boss is called “‘mammasantissima’ (most holy mother) or ‘padrino’ (godfather). The Mafia family replaces the original family (Lo Verso G., 1998; Di Maria F., 1998,).

The symbolic aspect of admission to a family is re-proposed in the rite of affiliation, which is similar to baptism, celebrated in Cosa Nostra (Fiore I., 1998).

Mothers are the main guarantors, transmitters, bonds of Mafia identity, behaviours and values. The father does not exist in the Mafia family, all affective relations are delegated to the mother, who also has to transmit the culture of revenge.

Mafia is a fusional mother, over-possessive and devouring who annuls her children-members. It is a symbiotic relationship, typical of the Mediterranean mother, in which mother and child are “the same thing”. A relationship that is repeated in “Cosa Nostra”.

The Sicilian woman evokes the archetype of the Mediterranean Great Mother.

For Di Lorenzo (D Lorenzo S., 1996), males would be at the service of the mother’s power, the Mother Goddess, Mammasantissima. Any attempt at separation or autonomy is considered a betrayal and is punished with death. It is the representation of the negative aspect of the archetype of the Mediterranean Great Mother that continues to live in the Social Unconscious.

The male, in the form of the loving son belongs to the Great Mother. The State is an enemy and castrated father before the phallic and almighty Mafia-Mother (Di Lorenzo S., 1996).

The Mafia-mother, who “devours” her children, is the expression of an archaic culture of cannibalistic oral greed (Lusetti V., 2008).

We can say that the culture is mainly based on an oral bioculture

In this regard I will cite a significant Median Group session:

.Session 27 March 1996(21 attended: 14 women and 7 men)

Content: In this session the Mafia appears as the archetype of the deadly Great Mother.

The group discusses the Mafia phenomenon. As the analysis gradually becomes deeper, this phenomenon appears increasingly as a collective representation of the Jungian archetype of the terrible mother: the piovra (like a bloodthirsty goddess who must be offered sacrificial victims and who eats children).

This image emerges in Anna's dream, in which the Mafia is represented by an apparently male image, which in actual fact is a large woman with a big red bottom. Also Matteo links Mafia crimes to women, the only ones responsible for handing down Sicilian values and culture. Therefore basically the Mafia phenomenon, though of a male kind, seems to be of female essence, the most negative and destructive aspect of femininity. Again we have the image of the giant turtle that eats its babies, of the spider's web one must escape from, of the terrible mother whom one could defend oneself from better by having a penis that gives the necessary strength to fight her and destroy her. This is the infantile fantasy of Cinzia who is still seeking her female identity, and also of Anna and Monica still torn between identifying themselves as a female being or a male identity. And it is precisely penis envy that emerges from the fantasies of Stefania, Anna and Cinzia as the object imagined as a tool for defending themselves from the Great Mother's destructiveness

It is very suggestive to reflect on how a matriarchal social organization loses itself in the night of times of evolution. Harold Behr cites Foulkes:

” … the first relationship with the mother is quite certainly completely conditioned, completely determined by the surrounding culture’…. He was ‘ struck for many years by a description of the behaviour of white ants in a book The Soul of the Wite Ant by the South African author Eugene Marais (1937). Marais’ hypothesis is that these ants are only apparently individuals. They are ‘in fact, as it were, cells of a vast organism which stretches over miles and is connected by (to us) invisible bonds’ (Behr H.2007:8-9).

“The whole behaviour of the termite is determined …by an influece… we may call it a thread by which he is firmly tied to the queen’s cell. This invisible influence streams from the organism of the queen alone…The somatic death of the queen destroys the influence immediately” ( Marais E. 1937, Italian Ed. 2005:73).

“ The individual worker or soldier possesses no individual instincts.He forms part of a separate organism of which the queen is the psychological center.The queen has , call it instinct if you will, of influencing the soldiers and workers in a certain way, which enables them to perform collective duties” (Marais E., Italian Ed 2005:159).

A similar phenomenon to the social organisation of bees.

“The bee is the symbol of the female power of nature, where the male has no other place or time than the fleeting moment of insemination, and the female assumes the characteristic of the terrible matriarch: after copulation all the drones, now useless, are killed” (Di Lorenzo S. 1996: 42).

On the basis of these observations concerning the study and analysis of the external cultural context, the hypothesis summarized in diagram has been advanced (Pisani R. A.,1993 b, 2000 a, 2000 b). In it particular emphasis is given to the behavioural forms based on oral destructive patterns (bioculture).

This vicious circle, the expression as it were of the "serpent that bites its own tail", can be interpreted as an uroboric circle, i.e.”chaos”. In it dependence on the mother (possessive and devouring), the negative aspect of the Great Mother archetype, is at the basis of the separation and fusion anxiety fuelled by the absence, insignificance or destructiveness of the Great Father archetype.

Separation and fusion anxiety, at the basis of the incomplete male and female identity, is responsible for castration anxiety in males and for penis envy with phallic defence in females.

These two male and female aspects are at the basis of the clash between the sexes, widespread in social culture and reproduced in the analytical situation of the Median Group.

The clash between the sexes is expressed by becoming passive (castrating) on a genital level and by devouring on an oral level. The reciprocal destructiveness closes and fuels thel behavioural circle, encouraging the further emergence of the negative version of the Great Mother, the return to her or her cancellation.


Speaking of the social unconscious we have to take into account the individual and the social unconscious.

Individual unconscious concerns unconscious individual phenomena: unconscious instinctual drives, defence mechanisms and repressed unconscious.

Social unconscious concerns unconscious social phenomena: archetypes of the collective unconscious, social defence mechanisms and social repressed unconscious. As to say “unconscious collective” that appears through myths, rites and rituals, legends, popular customs, traditions, folklore, religion etc.

Social means mutual relations of human beings, that is what they share at biological and cultural level. It’s a question of interaction between nature and culture.

The social unconscious precedes the individual, but they are in a mutual, continuous and dynamic relationship . In the Foulkes’ words group and individual are complementary.

The social unconscious of Italy concerns the foundation matrix of this country. The group culture of Italy is based on archetypal and cultural phenomena, explored according to the four levels of relations and communications of the Foulkes’ matrix.

On the deepest primordial level of the Italian foundation matrix the archetype of the Great Mother and the dependence on it has a fundamental role. It belongs to the bioculture in de Maré’s words.

The subject has been deepened in de Maré’s terms of bioculture, socioculture and idioculture


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40 (3): 307-322.]

Editorial staff’s note:

(t) paper by the rapporteur Prof. Rocco Antonio Pisani

Antonella Giordani e Anna Maria Meoni

Rocco Antonio Pisani

M.D. Psychiatrist, Neurologist, Groupanalyst

Former Head of the Neuropsychiatric and Psychosomatic Outpatients Department, from 1974 to 2004.

Former Professor of Psychiatry and Group Psychotherapy –

Department of Neurological Sciences, University “La Sapienza”, Rome.

Full Member of the Group Analytic Society (London).

He started, as conductor, Small Group Analysis in 1981, and the Median Analytical Group in 1991, at the University “ La Sapienza” in Rome and in private.

The Sessions of the Median Group at the Department of Neurological Sciences, from 1991 to 2003, are collected in 19 volumes.

Postal Address: VIA LATINA, 166 – 00179 Roma, Italia