Where group members identify together, work together, and have increased power, they are more able to achieve their group goals. In particular, they are able to form a social system based on their shared beliefs and values. Their group identity is transformed from a set of ideas into a living reality. We call this collective self-realization.
Collective self-realization has great psychological benefits for individual group members. As we saw when the Prisoners first confronted the Guards and later when the Commune was established, the success of groups in bringing about social change is uplifting for their members. They become less stressed and less depressed, even in the face of very severe circumstances. They don’t let adverse conditions get on top of them, they get on top of the adverse conditions.
By contrast, where members work hard but cannot achieve their group goals – either because they lack group identity and group power (as in the case of the Guards) or because they are unwilling to exert group power (as in the case of the Communards) – then they become burnt out, despondent and stressed.
These findings point to important links between social psychological factors (group identity, group solidarity) and significant clinical outcomes (anxiety, depression). Mental health may be 'all in the mind', but the state of the mind is powerfully shaped by the quality of group life.