Chapter Eight – Fraser House Big Meeting






This Chapter outlines Big Meeting processes and Neville’s leader roles. A summary of Big Meeting process written by patients (Appendix 8) may serve as introductory reading.


Fraser House was a substantial endeavour. Once under way it was having around 13,000 outpatient visits a year. While other therapeutic communities in the UK and USA had periodic whole ward meetings with up to 80 patients and thirty staff, in Fraser House, total community big groups (staff, patients and outpatients attending) were held twice a day on all weekdays, with up to 180 in attendance five days a week, year round.


Each of the following terms were used to refer to the whole community meeting – ‘Big Group’, ‘Big Meeting’, ‘Community Meeting’, ‘Large Group Psychosocial Therapy’, ‘Collective Therapy’, and ‘Big Group Therapy’.


Morning Big Group was held from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM.  Evening Big Group was from 6:30 PM till 7:30 PM. Big Groups were followed by a 30-minute tea break; then everyone reconvened and separated into small groups.


In Neville’s paper, ‘Collective Therapy – Audience and Crowd’ (1966; Yeomans, N. 1971c), Neville wrote, ‘the skilled use of collective forces is one of the paramount functions of the socio-therapist and such skills are defined by the team as ‘Collective Therapy’. In his paper, ‘Sociotherapeutic Attitudes to Institutions’ Neville wrote, ‘Collective therapy, both audience and crowd, utilizes social forces in the patients’ primary group (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 12, p. 46, 60-61).’ Neville engaged all involved in Fraser House in recognizing, understanding and utilizing these social forces. The Fraser House Handbook (excerpts in Appendices 7 and 8) also refers to audience and crowd behaviour, especially contagion, being a central aspect of Big Group (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 18-20, 50-54).


For a time, Big Group involved around 100 people and then it grew to around 180 people. According to Chilmaid (April 1999), it peaked at 300 on one occasion. All these people would be crammed shoulder-to-shoulder into a rather small room – in Neville’s terms, ‘a mixture of the very mad and the very bad patients’, along with their typically dysfunctional friends, workmates and relatives as outpatients. All the staff on duty at the time would also attend. Often there were visitors and invited guests also attending Big Group. People who attended the Fraser House Psychiatric Research Study Group (discussed later) also attended Big Group, along with people from religious, business and government organisations interested in learning group skills. Fraser House became a major centre for learning group skills, with people from many government, academic and non-government organizations attending. Neville said that much of the training was done by patients (August, 1998). Neville would also invite people from the media, students, as well as people Neville connected with through his extensive outreach talk schedule. Others who made requests to attend would also be allowed in. Margaret Cockett (who became Neville’s personal assistant) was in this category of visitor on her first visit. Members of Alfred Clark’s External Study Team would also attend. On one occasion a TV crew from the ABC came and filmed a section of Big Group. (I was not able to track down this film in the ABC archives.)


Some patients had jobs that they would go to during the day. They would attend evening Big Group. According to Chilmaid in an email (Mar, 2003):


Evening Big Group was mandatory for all in-patients unless excused by the Ward Committee (employed relatives living in, parental duties, children, etc). Not all staff attended evening group.


In another email Phil Chilmaid (April, 2003) wrote,


Children did attend Big Groups, but this wasn't de rigueur. High school children usually did attend when not at school. Primary school children had separate play time during evening group with the psychologist Porritt when he was there; a lot depended on the numbers and ages of kids at any particular time.


Porritt and a senior nurse spent time in observation and play therapy with the children at the same time as Evening Big Group. Also, a couple of nurses remained on rounds (and made tea for the report session) Chilmade 2003). Evening groups catered for friends and relatives who found it difficult to come during the day, and for inpatients that worked during the day. Very occasionally the evening Big Group became a Special Group and mandatory for all. Mostly evening Big Groups were well attended, probably 80% of morning Big Group. In an email Bruen (Mar, 2003) wrote:


As I recall, the evening groups were compulsory for inpatients but not for outpatients.  However, family members of inpatients were strongly encouraged to come in the evening, and there was a strong emphasis on family dynamics for attendance by those families whose relatives could only come in the evening.


Once Big Group started, the ground rule was that no one left before it was finished. A toilet was available within the room behind a screen. Two staff were assigned to be recorders, one for content, and one for process. Big Group process records were kept in a very large hard covered red book. This assignment was rotated to improve staff’s process observing and attending skills. This record was referred to during staff discussion in the tea break following Big Group. I have been unable to trace this red book. It seems that no records exist of any aspect of Fraser House in Government records. Neville and Margaret Cockett both confirmed (Oct 1999) that there were powerful forces very determined to see all trace of Fraser House eliminated. I could find no health department archives relating to Fraser House.


The Big Group meeting room was the lower building behind the white car in the photo below.




Photo 1 A photo I took in October 1998 of the room at Fraser House where Big Group was held


One of the Fraser House Handbooks (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 1-54) confirms that during the staff discussion in the tea break following Big Group, the two official observers for the meeting used the Red Book to give their report to staff, followed by comments by all staff members present, including the Group Leader/Therapist.


The points assessed were: mood, theme, value and interaction, therapist’s role and techniques employed. From these ‘post-mortems’ comes much of the knowledge needed.


These four aspects - mood, theme, value and interaction were the essence of what Neville was personally constantly scanning for. These guided his interacting with the group. In having these as the ‘discussion framers’ along with Neville’s role and process, Neville was fast-tracking all staff into his way. Note that while these review session were very involving, they were condensed by being limited to 30 minutes. They happened twice a day so the ‘unfinished’ may be taken up later if deemed a potent theme.


The aim must be always to look at the community in the ‘BIG’ – as a whole and this certainly is no easy matter (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 51)


Neville also scanned the ‘BIG’ – the-whole-of-it - like his family did on the farm. The handbook notes that this was ‘no easy matter’. Simultaneously Neville was scanning for minute subtle nuances. Neville had ‘attending’ as a highly developed resource state.


Some of the ways in which an emergent theme may be linked to sections of the total community are indicated in the following quote from notes on how to run Big Group (Appendix 8):


Usually the therapist then allows the group to enter into spontaneous ‘free floating’ discussion until a general interconnecting theme is apparent. This may then be pursued with promptings towards interaction between different generations or social classes or psychiatric opposites – or perhaps to tie in together for mutual support those with similar difficulties, personally or because of family or life-crisis situation (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, 50-54).


On staff review of groups, an email Bruen (Mar, 2003) stated:


The staff meetings to discuss the group were for staff only.  The summary was recorded but not made available to patients or families. These summaries were used mainly as a training exercise in what to look for in a group and to update staff at change of shifts - dynamics often changed very quickly at Fraser House and staff needed to be up with the latest.


Also in an email Chilmaid (Mar, 1999) wrote:


While the feedback/report by the observers was given at a half hour staff meeting (with a cup of tea and sandwiches) it was not unknown to query the observers about content earlier in the Big Group during the meeting.


Neville always led Big Group when Fraser House was first set up. He was both evolving processes and modelling these for staff. After a time, others began to get a feel for how to do it. Big Group was then also taken by medical staff. Later on, some nurse leaders also lead Big Group. As mentioned, three of the people I interviewed for this research, Cockett, Bruen, and Chilmaid all ran Big Group many times. After Neville left Fraser House in 1968 some Big Groups were even run by skilled patients. This was reported by Warwick Bruen (Interview April, 1999).


Thursday morning Big Group was ‘administrative only’. Administrative matters were discussed and patient committee elections were held under the auspices of the Parliamentary Committee. Reports were also received from the other committees.


During an interview/conversation with Neville (April, 1999) he stated that any attempt to bring up an administrative matter in a therapy group was deemed to be ‘flight’ and was interrupted with compassionate ruthlessness. Any attempt to bring up a therapy matter during an administrative group was deemed to be ‘obstruction’ and deferred.


The distinction in function between the Administrative Big Group and the other Big Groups is detailed in the following quote from the Staff Handbook (Appendix 8):


Morning community groups have two main therapeutic functions; personality change is the aim of four meetings, while social control is the focus of the Thursday morning administrative group (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, 50-54).


It was not ‘administration’ to sort out staff administration; rather, it was ‘administration’ for furthering the mutual-help based social control of the total community by the total community.


During Big Group everyone - including staff, outpatients and guests - were ‘in therapy’. Visiting Family, workmates and friends would ‘sign on’ as outpatients. In an April 1999 conversation with Warrick Bruen he said that while it was not ‘spelt out’ to staff that they too were ‘in therapy’, a person could not be in Big Group and not be ‘in therapy’; it was just so ‘dense’ that people had to have psychosocial and emotional shifts occurring. This view was confirmed by Neville, Margaret Cockett and Phil Chilmaid (April, 1999). This is resonant with Maxwell Jones’ comment that anyone in Fraser House had to change (Clark and Yeomans 1969, Preface).


Preventing Session Creep


Neville told me (June, 1999) that all therapy sessions at Fraser House were set strictly at a length of one hour. Timing of the following tea break and the one-hour small group was also strictly adhered to. When the Big and Small Group hour was up they stopped, even if it was in mid sentence. Neville said (30 June 1999) this strict adherence to time was specified by him after reading articles that therapy sessions get progressively longer once over forty-five minutes. What tends to happen is that people leave opening up and sharing to the last five minutes, and when they do open up there is some pressure there to work through something, and the session is extended. Next time nothing much happens till the last five minutes of the longer period, and so the session extends even further. To stop this ‘session creep’, Neville set sixty minutes as the non-negotiable length. 


Big Group Layout


So that everyone could see everyone at Big Group, moveable wooden tiers were set up along each of the long sides of the Big Group room. Staff, patients and outpatients were all mixed together in a self-organising process. A raised podium was set up at the far end for the two recorders who kept a transcript of the proceedings.


The Big Group room was rather small for the numbers that crammed into it - around 8 metres by 16 metres. Neville, Bruen and Chilmaid (April 1999) confirmed that typically, the attendees sat in two rows along both of the long sides. Attendees were all jammed in shoulder to shoulder. When the numbers exceeded 180, there would be three rows along one or both of these long sides.


The Sixties were a time when women were generally quiet in men’s presence and would be quiet if men were talking. In other hospital environments this reticence to talk in the presence of men tended to apply to both female staff and female patients. An observation made by Phil Chilmaid (August 1999) was that at Fraser House, females were often passionate contributors in groups and would often catch the group’s focus and hold the floor.


Outside of Big and Small Groups, all involved in Fraser House were dispersed throughout the quarter of a kilometre long complex. In squeezing the total community and visitors into Big Group, Neville was creating concentrated cultural locality. Everyone was part of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd; everyone was audience and spectator. And everyone knew they could become the centre of the crowd’s focus and that this could happen at any time. Being the focus of Big Group was a very potent extraordinary socio-emotional experience. Neville was very adept at creating the unexpected sudden shift in group focus. That anyone could become the focus of group attention at any moment served to create and maintain tension in the group.


A Mood That Attunes


Mood was one of the four aspects of Big Group that was discussed at the following thirty minute staff review. A key part of the Big Group reality was maintaining a ‘healing environment’ that was a ‘natural growth force’. The German word ‘stimmung’ is apropos. ‘Stimmung’ has, as one of its meanings, ‘a mood that attunes people together’ (Pelz 1974, p.89-90). Within Big Group, Neville set up processes whereby the collective stimmung that was maintained for the time together was tuned to healing (Pelz 1974, p. 89-90). However this did not necessarily mean gentle caring and kindness. Healing often entailed what Neville called, ‘ruthless compassion’. Healing was at times rugged and relentless. It was at times exhilarating and at other times it was emotionally draining. In separate discussions with Neville, Warwick Bruen and Phil Chilmaid (April 1999), they all confirmed that Big Group was very tightly structured and that no one liked it - staff and clients alike. At the same time it was widely acknowledged among both patients and staff that Big Group was very important - a crucial aspect of the Fraser House change-work.


Neville’s exploring of stimmung was resonant with the following remarks (about a group of people attuned to each other) by Jaworski’s (from his conversation with theoretical physicist Dr. David Bohm mentioned in part in Chapter Four):


It’s activating a single intelligence that works with people who are moving in relationship with each other. Cues that pass from one to the other are soon picked up with the same awareness just as we pick up cues in riding bicycles or skiing. Therefore these people are really one. The separation between them is not blocking. They are all pulling together. If you had a number of people who really pulled together and worked together in his way it would be remarkable. They would stand out so much that everyone would know they were different (1998).


People did recognise that Big Group was very special. That’s why religious leaders, academics, bureaucrats, businessmen, media people, people from all walks of life came to experience it and co-learn.


Big Group was run like a meeting (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 18, 50-54). In writing about group  process the handbook states (refer Appendix 8):


‘The first essential in taking a group is to see it as a meeting and like all meetings, there is a need for a chairman to conduct affairs and keep issues to the point. ‘The function of the therapist is to see that the group functions as a group. Be directive. The group could function well if the chairman adopts a completely passive and wordless role (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 17-20, 50-54).


Bruen commented (interview April, 1999) that Big Group was ‘exhausting for all present’ and that the leader had to be ‘really on the ball’ and ‘aware of everything’. Within Fraser House any destructive behaviour was interrupted, and dysfunctional behaviour was regularly occurring because of the nature of the patient/outpatient population. This dysfunctional behaviour was often interrupted with what Neville described as ‘ruthless compassion’.


One of the Fraser House Handbooks includes the following comment on Big Group process:

When both the staff and patients are working well together in the Unit, a peak of enthusiasm is reached at times when everyone sees almost any move at all as being gainful. New enterprises are embarked upon with an eagerness that is almost inspired and success is a certainty.


Again, when as a whole the big group is swayed by frustration, contagious aggression and excitement result - just as contagious as the feelings of fear and panic experienced due to shared threat anywhere (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 4, p. 51).


The Handbook notes that theories of behaviour of crowds and audiences apply to Big Group.


My interviewees all confirmed the following:


1.    Creating a collective mood tuned to healing that colours the collective reality as healing, is itself therapeutic.


2.    Within Fraser House, the realized (in the two-fold sense of ‘made real’ and ‘understood’) reality/context, the shared meanings about ‘what we are here for’, and the collective mood, were all healing.


3.    All participants (apart from newcomers) shared memories of previous Big Groups where healing had occurred in the shared cultural locality of the Unit’s Big Group Room. The very space in the room had become healing space. Healing memories were anchored (Hanlon 1987) to that space.  


Given the prevalence of pathology, Big Group as ‘healing stimmung’ was still riddled with people doing their best with pathological repertoires, including dysfunctional beliefs about the world and each other, as well as problematic values, attitudes and habits and pervasive self-doubt. All of these were being constantly held up to community scrutiny and challenged. Neville had highly refined competences to ensure functional interaction in this dysfunctional seething.


A lot of Big Group was like theatre with vocal people sometimes being rather passionate and rowdy. This was attested to by Neville, Chilmaid and Bruen (interviews April, 99). Big Group meetings were sometimes extremely frightening and challenging. Despite this, the context was framed as healing and very tightly controlled.  People were learning to be able to make value and moral based discriminations in discoursing about everyday life issues rather than just using utility as a criterion, or being unable to express themselves at all.




On the Side of Constructive Striving


Every person I interviewed connected to Fraser House said that Neville’s group process skills were way ahead of everybody. In the following section I endeavour to unpack some of his processes.


To repeat, Neville was continually scanning everyone (including various factions and isolates) to sense mood, theme, value and interaction (Bruen in April 1999). Neville discussed his own process in a monograph entitled, ‘The problem of Taking Sides’ (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 46-47). Neville’s process for working with destructive non-ecological behaviour was as follows (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 66). Whenever Neville was with more than one person, he was always on what Neville called ‘the side of the constructive striving’ of everyone present - their ecological bits (defined by Neville as ‘what was functional in the context’) – what Neville called, ‘the free energy’. This is isomorphic with the Keyline principle, ‘make use of the free energy in the system’ (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 66). The essence of this process was that Neville never took sides verbally or non-verbally. When carrying out therapy with family and friends within Big Group, Neville did not take the side of any one person. Rather, Neville took the side of, or supported what he called ‘the healthy component of a role in the relationship between the individuals concerned in that unfolding context’ (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 66).


The following quotes are taken from Neville’s ‘The problem of Taking Sides’ monograph (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 46-47) . When working within the intra-psychic structure of any one person in the family group, Neville wrote that he supported:


certain role behaviours of the particular individual and not other role behaviours.


More specifically, he supported:


the normal component of certain roles undertaken by the person in the particular context.


Neville did not take sides between the two or more individuals, even though typically they may be attempting to make him do this. Neville was constantly supporting what he termed:


the positive component in role relationships, and in any one individual in the role relationship - that person’s positive role behaviour component.


Using this process, it was surprising easy for Neville to flow very comfortably through the most potentially disturbing of family quarrels and conflicts. Within the unfolding context, Neville was supporting what he termed:


the normal component of their role relationships, and consequently the normal component of the intra-psychic role structures


 Neville was, intra-psychically speaking:


supporting the normal sub-total of roles in the individual and the group


At the same time, Neville was not supporting and condoning:


the abnormal role part functions of any in the group


Looked at from the perspective of a person’s total personality, Neville was:


personally supporting each member of the group as a person, while fundamentally not supporting or condoning anyone’s abnormal behaviour. Each member of the group was accepted. Everyone’s abnormal behaviour was rejected. The tension in each individual within the family/friendship sub-group was thus supported towards the normal.


What Neville was actually doing in the unfolding context was continually changing his position as a function of the particular roles that were being attempted by one or other of the partners in the exchange. Neville was always supporting the context specific healthy role functions.  A colleague David Cruise pointed out the resonance of the words of the Henry Mercer song (Mercer 2000):


Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

Don't mess with Mister In-Between


In this context, Neville was a ‘positive Mr. In-between’ and according to all of my interviewees, he was so far ahead of everyone else in his strategic ruthless compassionate caring, that it was best not to ‘mess’ with him.


The following outline of Neville’s behaviours in Big Group was confirmed by interviewees and is consistent with Neville’s paper, ‘The Problem of Taking Sides’ discussed above.


In Big Group, if anyone was destructively attacking another person present, Neville said (June 1998) he engaged the attacker and momentarily gave then his attention. He then immediately interrupted the attacker, and suddenly withdrew attention. Neville would switch his full attention to the person being attacked and ignored the attacker, and possibly the ongoing attacking. This sudden withdrawal of attention from the attacker was all the more potent because Neville’s prior engagement was so strong. At the same time he would continue to monitor the attacker as part of continual meta-scanning of the whole group and group process. He may provide support and comfort, and respond to any constructive striving of the victim. This behaviour ‘rewarded’ the victim and was ‘punishing’ the attacker. Sometimes he may isolate out and focus on the constructive and functionally appropriate-in-context aspects of the attacker’s behaviour and use this to interrupt the destructive aspects. Neville was very adept at this rapid pattern interrupt to non-functional-in-context behaviour. Neville said that aspects of the interrupt process may include the sudden removal of gaze, the rapid turning of eyes, head and body away from the attacker, the cessation of Neville’s attention (as perceived by the attacker), perhaps the hand up, ‘stop now’ hand gesture of the traffic policeman, the non-acknowledgment of the attacker’s words and being-in-the-room, and the engagement of the ‘victim’ as Neville’s (and the Groups) new centre of attention.


Typically, the victim became the new centre of the group-as-audience’s attention and the attacker was for the time, ‘excluded’ by the Group process. This was an example of Neville’s use of social forces. This sudden withdrawal of being the centre of the Group’s attention, the taking away of the supports to the attacker’s ‘taken-for-granted what’s happening’- this ‘denial of the attacker’s reality’ - typically creates an internal ‘interrupt’ to their state and functioning. Often they go into momentary confusion (Hanlon 1987). Often the ‘state’ of the suddenly interrupted person may collapse. For example, ‘anger’ may collapse through ‘confusion’ to ‘frustration’ to ‘brooding’ till the dramatic theatre unfolding around them ‘captures’ their attention and they shift to being profoundly engaged as part of the audience to other’s change-work. Bruen and Chilmaid confirmed Neville’s use of the above behaviours (Oct 1998, April 1999). Neville termed the functional behaviour in context ‘the ecological bits’. Neville would, in his terms, ‘support the ecological bits of all concerned’. He would support ‘the functional behaviour in context and ignore the dysfunctional behaviour in context’. Neville (June, 1998) called this ‘ecology therapy’ (Yeomans, N. 1965a, Vol. 5, p. 46-47).


Neville was particularly interested in processes for crowd synchrony and contagion and how to use this for enabling caring and wellbeing. Neville’s models for his own Big Group leader behaviour were Churchill, Hitler, Billy Graham and Jesus - that is, people who could create crowd synchrony and contagion; people who could inspire, manipulate, emotionally move and control a crowd. He did not use them as content models (except Jesus’ love). Neville (July 1998) said that he often mentioned to staff and clients that he used these charismatic people as process models.


Neville’s abiding metaframe was love surrounded by humane caring, psychosocial ecology, and safety. Aspects of this metaframe emerge through this research. In a 30 June 1999 telephone conversation Neville said that one appeal of charismatic leaders is that:


….for many followers, the paradox of existence requires the intervention of the miraculous. Many believe that such leaders can deliver miracles.


When I asked ‘and there were miracles at Fraser House?’ he said with flourish:


Of course it was miraculous. We were the best in the planet, and we all believed this, so we would acknowledge our failings, as we were streets ahead of everyone else. I was accused of being an impossible optimist. I sense I was more of a fatalistic optimist. I was context driven - if I go to ‘creative context’ then ‘everything is creative’ - it worked like that. As for the miraculous - well that was a calm night.....peaceful.... remember we were filled with the very bad and the very mad - the under controlled and the over controlled.


Neville’s Sensory Functioning


According to Bruen and Chilmaid (April, 1999), Neville had an amazing ability to perceive inside and outside of the person(s) he was attending to, as well as every person in the group (up to 300), and to do all this instantly, and be ten or more steps ahead of everybody in a very strategic way. Neville had the capacity to recall virtually verbatim everything everyone said and even the subtlest non-verbals and actions over at least the whole of a one-hour Big Group (around 180 people) or small therapy group at Fraser House. Often he would refer a person back to what they had said 20 or 40 minutes ago and be able to repeat verbatim what they said back to them.


It seems that in sensory terms, when Neville was tuned into social interaction, he typically stayed attending to external contexts as opposed to internal recalling or imagining seeing and hearing things. Neville told me (June, 1992; June, 1998) that he would receive thoughts as guides to action as ‘bolts out of the blue’ – out of internal silence – with these, and their link to unfolding action, linked to his immediate (fast) emotional and kinaesthetic responses as a check on ecology and ‘fit’. He could attend to specifics and scan the context concurrently, always looking for the free energy in the social milieu. For Neville, ‘free energy’ was what he termed ‘the context specific and resonant functional bits of behaviour’ and the ‘psychosocial resources’ in each person present.


Place was fundamental for Neville. Initially I had not realized that when he and I were talking about another place (or events in another place) to the place we were situated, Neville would mentally place himself in this other place as an aid to discussion and functioning. Similarly, Neville always checked out his and others’ context and meta-context (the context of the context) in social exchange, so that he could get a feel for the interconnections in everyone present (Goffman 1974). None of this detail ever bogged him down or cluttered the conversation. Neville was a man of few words – for him, the less said the better.




The Fraser House milieu was like the soil on the Yeomans’ farm. It was complex, interwoven and maintained in a thriving state because of very strategic redesign features that Neville set up and sustained - fully consistent with thrival aspects within individuals as living system, and between individuals as the Fraser House living system.


Fraser House was what Senge called thirty three years later a ‘learning organization’ (1992). The Unit had a culture of continual review, innovation and openness to try new ways, leading to sustained negentropy (the opposite of entropy). Neville was implementing what Deming termed ‘a culture of continual improvement’ (2005).


Living systems that are adaptive and thriving well, while being provoked and challenged by the surrounding ecosystem, are usually in far from equilibrium states (Capra 1997, p. 85-94, 102, 110, 175-178, 187). In complexity terms, every aspect of Fraser House was structured by Neville and others to maintain the Unit in a far from equilibrium state. When situations within Fraser House became stuck, Neville would intentionally perturb it, and then use the evoked heightened emotional contagion as emotional corrective experience.


Gain, Loss, Threat and Frustration


Neville spoke (discussion Dec, 1993 and July 1998) of four major themes stirring emotions being gain, loss, threat and frustration. Neville would expressly make strategic use of incidents with a high probability of heightening emotional arousal associated with these four themes within Big Group.


Among the appendices are three cases studies providing revealing glimpses of Neville’s processes and the Fraser House community in action:


Appendix 14 is a Case Study about how Neville intentionally heightened the group’s emotional arousal during a Big Group meeting using the themes gain, loss, threat and frustration.


Appendix 15 contains two cases. The first is about Neville mobilising the Fraser House community to be at its very best in supporting a 12 year old girl and her foster parents in a Big Group meeting expecting the arrival of girl’s mother who has just served twelve years in prison for murdering her other children. The mother arrives obsessed with killing the 12 year old.


The second case is Neville’s strategic intervention where a patient in his upstairs dorm is threatening to stab his wife.




This chapter has outlined the use of collective social forces in Big Group meetings, and the collective therapy processes evolved at Fraser House for working with attendees as both audience and crowd. The difference between Therapy Big Group and Administrative Big Group was described. Post Big Group staff reviews of mood, theme, value and interaction along with discussion on the therapist’s role and techniques were outlined along with Neville’s leader roles and group process. The next chapter looks at change processes evolved at Fraser House. Neville’s evolving of Cultural Keyline from Keyline is analysed.