The need for transparency in social relationships and real hierarchies (Tamera 5)

This is excerpted from a book originally published 30 years ago, by Dieter Duhm, initiator of the Tamera community in Portugal.

This is the final excerpt in this serialization of Dieter Duhm:

“Building a humane community usually means confronting difficulties that are deeply rooted in the character structures of modern man and especially in the ideological structures of the subcultures. Instead of the fixation on humanitarian slogans and demands, what is needed is a clear attitude towards the emotional and mental realities that in fact exist. This emotional reality must at all times and places be made visible, with as playful and joyful methods as possible, until all pretence and hypocrisy drop away. The group members must notice that there is no longer anything to be gained by pretending.

There is perhaps only one categorical imperative for the emergence of communities that are good and stable from within: that everything possible be done to make what happens in the community understandable and transparent to everyone. This is especially important for the emotional and sexual processes, for they are behind almost everything that makes the group situation difficult and opaque. The transparency of all processes is the precondition for freeing the members of their paranoia, for keeping destructive processes from taking on a life of their own, and for treating the causes of rifts and fractures in the group before it is too late.

A crucial part of overall transparency is the transparency of social hierarchies, which exist in every group. It is good if everyone knows as precisely as possible his place in the group, what the others think about him, and where they see him in the hierarchy of the community. In this way the community is freed from the hypocrisy of superficial harmony and false democracy. Each individual can then get to know the reality he has to deal with. It is no longer easy for him to inhabit a world of secret claims and blackmail in which he used to be able to blame others for his weaknesses. Now he knows his place and can work from there.

Ongoing social feedback between the members of the community is also part of transparency. The members must learn to tell each other without hesitation what they like and don’t like. Personal conflicts must not be suppressed or they will seethe under the surface, poison the atmosphere and lead to camouflaged reactions that cannot be read clearly. More serious personal conflicts should be presented publicly to the group. To avoid taking it all too seriously, those involved should learn to distance themselves from the problem through playful methods (such as psychodrama or the methods of selfexpression developed in Friedrichshof). Conflict often turns out to be a part of one’s own insanity, which in itself justifies perceiving and presenting it as a stage play rather than as a too serious reality. (To learn to play the games of group dynamics it is wise at the beginning to enlist experienced “neutral” therapists to teach the methods and something of the processes involved.)

A common cause for the lack of transparency in a group situation lies in the mixing of factual discussions with emotional conflicts. The group must learn to distinguish sharply between them to keep discussions from sinking into an aggressive quagmire. There is no point in continuing a factual discussion that has long since become dominated by personal conflicts, covert power struggles or some old story of competition.

This is the time to break off the discussion and carry on the interaction through play-acting with theatrical exaggeration and playfulness.”

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