All quotes are from the psychotherapy book, The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Second Edition by Irvin D. Yalom. Note that there is a 5th edition to my knowledge, but this copy was given to me by my boss.
There is an old Hasidic story of the Rabbi who had a conversation with the Lord about Heaven and Hell. “I will show you Hell,” said the Lord and led the Rabbi into a room in the middle of which was a very big, round table. The people sitting at it were famished and desperate. In the middle of the table there was a large pot of stew, enough and more for everyone. The smell of the stew was delicious and made the Rabbi’s mouth water. The people round the table were holding spoons with very long handles. Each one found that it was just possible to reach the pot to take a spoonful of the stew, but because the handle of his spoon was longer than a man’s arm, he could not get the food back into his mouth. The Rabbi saw that their suffering was terrible.
“Now I will show you Heaven,” said the Lord, and they went into another room, exactly the same as the first. There was the same big, round table and the same pot of stew. The people, as before, were equipped with the same long-handled spoons – but here they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. At first the Rabbi could not understand. “It is simple, but it requires a certain skill,” said the Lord. “You see, they have learned to feed each other.” – p. 12-13
Warden Duffy is reputed to have claimed that the best way to help a man is to let him help you. People need to feel they are needed.
This source of help is not appreciated at first. Quite the contrary. Many patients resist the suggestion of group therapy with the question, “How can the blind lead the blind?” Or they ask, “What can I possibly get from others as confused as I?” We’ll end up pulling one another down.” Exploration of this sentiment usually reveals that the patient is really saying, “What do I have to offer anyone?” Such resistance to entering the group is best worked through from the direction of the patient’s critical self-evaluation. – p. 13-14