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Displacement shifts sexual/aggressive impulses to a more acceptable or less threatening target; redirecting emotion to a safer outlet; separation of emotion from its real object and redirection of the intense emotion toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. For example, a mother may yell at her child because she is angry with her husband.

Kevin Coe, born Frederick Harlan Coe on Feb. 2, 1947, is a convicted rapist from Spokane, Washington, often referred to in the news media as the "South Hill Rapist". He has been in custody since conviction in 1981. Starting on September 15, 2008 the State of Washington held a "civil commitment" trial before a jury wherein it argued that he should be declared a sexually violent predator and confined indefinitely; jury selection began that day, and testimony commenced September 29. As of May, 2008, he is still a suspect in dozens of rapes. His notoriety is due to much more than the fact of his statuses as a suspect and convict. The number of victims he has been suspected of having raped is unusually large; his convictions received an unusual amount of attention from appeals courts; his mother was convicted for hiring a hit man against her son's judge and prosecutor after the initial convictions; and the bizarre relationship between Coe and his mother became the subject of a nonfiction book by the widely read writer on crime, Jack Olsen. "Sins of the Mother" is the title of the movie depicting the story.

Dale Midkiff plays the role of Kevin Coe

In 1981 Coe, a radio announcer by profession, gained regional renown when he was arrested as the suspect in up to 43 rapes which had been perpetrated in Spokane between 1978 and 1981. Many of the rapes involved an extreme level of physical injury to the victims, and the police suspected them to be the work of a single offender, who came to be dubbed the "South Hill rapist". It was suggested that Kevin was mad at his mother for treating him like dirt, and that he was displacing his anger towards her onto his victims, the women he raped and hurt.

Ruth was a total lunatic, overbearing, very protective of Fred - she's rightly portrayed in the movie as the tragico-comical woman she was.


Fight/Flight mentality and the choice of a leader in the Fight/Flight group

As to the choice of a leader for a fight/flight group, Bion says:

"It is usually a man or woman with marked paranoid trends; perhaps, if the presence of an enemy is not immediately obvious to the group, the next best thing is for the group to choose a leader to whom it is."

This statement is important for several reasons. First, it makes it obvious that, according to Bion, it is not the leader who chooses his group -- neither according to his own needs or his perception of the group's needs -- but much more the basic assumption group which seeks and chooses its appropriate leader according to its (unconscious) needs. And second, the group's need to find an enemy, against whom they can either fight or from which they can flee, exists even before that enemy has been found, discovered or, indeed, invented. In other words, one might say, that if the Jews hadn't been there already for the Nazis to identify as the enemy, responsible for their miserable plight, the Nazis would have had to invent them! And as for the leadership role in this fight/flight dynamic, the German people were highly successful in picking a personality from among their ranks (who was, of course not even a German, but an Austrian!), and whose capacities as a leader of the fight/flight basic assumption have remained virtually unparalleled in history, Adolph Hitler. According to Bion, leadership is a product of the group mentality, not its origin. He writes:

The leader, on the basic assumption level, does not create the group by virtue of his fanatical adherence to an idea, but is rather an individual whose personality renders him peculiarly susceptible to the obliteration of individuality by the basic group's leadership requirements.

And here Bion links this phenomenon with the Kleinian theory of projective identification:

To me the leader is as much the creature of the basic assumption as any other member of the group, and this, I think, is to be expected if we envisage identification of the individual with the leader as depending not on introjection alone but on a simultaneous process of projective identification.

This "loss of individual distinctiveness" applies to the leader as much as to anyone else.

Thus the leader in the fight/flight group, for example, appears to have a distinctive personality because his personality is of a kind that lends itself to exploitation by the group demand for a leader who requires of it only a capacity for fighting or for flight; the leader has no greater freedom to be himself than any other member of the group. Bion compares this leader with

"an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his own will. He is leader by virtue of his capacity for instantaneous, involuntary combination with every other member of his group and only differs from them in that, whatever his function in the work group, he is the incarnation of the basic assumption group leader.

Bion points out that it is incapable of tolerating frustration in the long run, because in the sphere of basic assumption phenomena, time itself is not a relevant, not even an existent dimension of reality. Flight offers an immediately available opportunity for expression of the emotion in the fight/flight group and therefore meets the demand for instantaneous satisfaction -- therefore the group will take flight. Alternatively, attack offers a similarly immediate outlet -- then the group will fight. The fight/flight group will follow any leader who will give such orders as license instantaneous flight or instantaneous attack.

The capacity for "containment" as a prerequisite for good leadership

So, how can Bion's Container-Contained model serve as a model for good leadership in groups? Only a group which feels sufficiently contained will be able to function successfully over a long period of time as a work group. If anxieties, irrationalities, aggressions, envy and rivalry, disruptive unconscious fantasies and ideas, etc. are not adequately contained, they threaten to paralyse the group or to blow it up. If this is the case, then the group will be forced to fall back on functioning in a basic assumption mode in order to prevent such threats and disturbances from destroying the group altogether. The price paid for this is, however, is, of course, the loss of task orientation and with it, the capacity to do work. When, however, the work group leader is capable of offering the group enough containment, these disturbing factors can be "digested", can be better metabolised into the group's dynamic life, and it can then "feed" on this experience, can grow on it, learn from it, and thereby improve its capacity to devote itself to the task at hand and to achieve good results.

Containment as a leadership style -- where does it come from?

How containing the style of the leader and how given to blaming others when things go wrong (paranoid/schizoid position) versus acknowledging one's or one's institution's contribution towards the trouble one is in (depressive position), depends to a very large degree on the individual's capacity to maintain a relatively mature stance as opposed to falling into a defensive/paranoid one, and this capacity is based on early experiences and their later reworking as the life-cycle progresses. The assumption underlying this aspect of psychoanalytic theory suggests that the conditions necessary in order for a proper Container-Contained relationship in the Bionic sense to come into being are:

a) when an individual has him/herself had sufficient experience of containment in the course of his or her personal development, and
b) when s/he has thereby developed a capacity to identify both with the container as well as with "being contained" and then, through the process of introjective identification, has been able to include this as a significant and stable aspect of his or her own internal life.

This developmental process thus enables one to increase one's capacity to contain, and to employ containment of anxiety as a psychic tool, which can then be utilised as necessary in the authoritative execution of leadership roles.

Awesome, Hadrian!

Indeed lushy!

Are you just tagging the post "I Still Have A Pony"? I mean Hadrian's post is really interesting. I remember Bion's theory from the time of my college days when I wrote a research paper on group dynamics.

Current Law Students / Re: Should I travel to India?
« on: November 21, 2010, 01:21:59 PM »
Hayde, the historycommons page on the case shows up in page 2 now, it probably was in page 1 at the time when the original post was made; I don't think anyone would have had a difficult time finding it were the picture not included - in fact, I think the inclusion of the screenshot was a bit too much..

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