13 Slices
Medium 9781855756076

1987 NEW YORK

Karnac Books ePub

Harold Bridger

The fish only realises that it lives in water when it is already on the bank.”

Old French saying

A basic principle of groups … how any given person was reconciling personal ambitions, hopes and fears with the requirements exacted by the group for its success.”

W.R. Bion

The main emphasis today is that people want to arrive without the experience of getting there.”

Daniel Boorstin

As this paper is intended to provide a basis for discussion I am writing in a form which represents more closely the fluid state of mythinking and working situations and not a definitive closely argued position.

I have always felt, and attempted to demonstrate, that psychoanalytic knowledge and psycho-analytic experience (as analysand and as analyst) can be of immense and significant value in the consultative practice of enabling organizations and communities to review themselves, adapt to change and continue maintaining their own further development (i.e., action-research). This conviction has increased and intensified as organizations and communities have become more open to their environments and those environments have become more uncertain, complex and turbulent than ever before. [1]

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Medium 9781855756076

1996 NEW YORK

Karnac Books ePub

Howard F. Stein *

Experiential realities of downsizing, reductions in force, restructuring, outsourcing, and cognate terms are often at wide variance with their touted and expected promises of increased productivity, profit, rationality, realism, efficiency, teamwork, and role interchangeability. Vignettes cited suggest that downsizing is not primarily about economics or business but, instead, myth and ritual. Downsizing is explored as a symbolic form and action, rationalized and masked by euphemism. Downsizing implements devastating planned social change, one that takes the form of sacrifice to purchase organizational life via symbolic death. Downsizing is experienced as a metaphoric Holocaust, one driven by the need to perform sacrifice (a) to separate bad from good parts of oneself and (b) to secure organizational rebirth through the expulsion of death. The link between the popular 1993 movie Schindler’s List and organizational themes in the language of the Holocaust is explored and takes us to the heart of the conscious and unconscious emotional experience and meaning of downsizing.

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Medium 9781855756076

1985 NEW YORK

Karnac Books ePub

Michael A. Diamond

In the analysis of the social character of bureaucracy, one must examine the psychodynamics of obsessional neurosis in the individual and ritualistic practices in the bureaucracy. Much of organization theory either implicitly or explicitly characterizes bureaucratic activity as ritualistic. Such behavior results from obsessional thinking and compulsive action in the individual aimed at defending the self from anxiety over losing control. Ritualistic individual behavior serves to contain anxiety stemming from the uncanny experience of momentary loss in self/object boundaries and identity. This may occur in the organizational recruit at the moment of entry into the bureaucracy where one acts to deny reality by “undoing” the self-alienation that has occurred (signal anxiety) and “isolating” its affects (Freud, 1959a). Managing self/object boundaries and controlling ambivalent feelings emerges as primary motivating actions in the newcomer. Consequently, the new organizational member finds his defensive and regressive actions consistent with ritualistic tendencies and bureaucratic practices. The psychoanalysis of ritualistic behavior elucidates the human construction of and adherence to a bureaucratic form of organization as the outcome of the obsessional neurotic’s actions in securing himself against anxiety about losing control over the impulses of the id.

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Medium 9781855756076

1988 NEW YORK

Karnac Books ePub

Laurence J. Gould, Ph.D.

It may be said that within psychoanalysis the application to o rg anizational life began with Freud’s (1921) consideration of the Church and Army. In this connection Freud linked certain dynamic aspects of these organizations to his earlier hypotheses regarding the o rigins of social process and social structure—namely, the primal horde (1913). While Freud never directly followed this line of thought f urther, except generally in his later sociological works (1927, 1930, 1939), there is, by now, a rapidly growing and impressive body of literature on psychoanalytic conceptions of organizational behavior (e.g., Baum, 1987, Bion, 1961; Hirschhorn, 1988; Jacques, 1951, 1955; Kernberg, 1979; 1984; Kets de Vries, 1984; Kets de Vries and Miller, 1984; Lawrence, 1979; Levinson, 1972; Menzies, 1960, 1988, 1989; Miller, 1976; Miller and Gwynne, 1972; Miller and Rice, 1967; Rice, 1958; Trist and Murray, 1990; Zaleznik, 1967, 1984). However, despite this rich and abundant interest, little work has been reported with respect to developing techniques and methodologies for the practice of organizational consultation which derive from these conceptions. The reasons are numerous and can be briefly adumbrated.Psychoanalytic organizational psychology is still in its infancy c ompared to clinical psychoanalysis. Further, many of those i nterested in applying psychoanalytic viewpoints to their or ganizational consultation work are not clinicians, much less psychoa nalysts. Hence, such practitioners usually have little knowledge of, or direct experience with the sorts of technical issues, questions and dile mmas that are at the heart of psychoanalytic treatment. Equally, most p racticing psychoanalysts do not do organizational consultation work, and indeed the majority have little experience working with groups of any sort, to say nothing of large formal organizations. In consequence, the different backgrounds and experiences of psychoanalytically trained clinicians, and organizational practitioners, have a counterpart in the almost non-existent area of psychoanalytic practice and technique in group and organizational work settings.

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Medium 9781855756076

1998 JERUSALEM

Karnac Books ePub

David Armstrong

‘Psychic retreats’ was first presented at the 1998 Symposium of ISPSO, in Jerusalem. The theme of the Symposium was:‘Drawing Boundaries and Crossing Bridges—Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Alliances, Relationships and Relatedness between Groups, Organisations and Cultures’.

The paper was based on a reading of John Steiner’s psychoanalytic formulation of‘psychic retreats’, as these may emerge in clinical work with patients. It traces the ways in which Steiner’s concept of the‘internal organisation’ and its genesis can be echoed within experiences of organisational life and the conditions which inform this. A provisional distinction is drawn between the enactment and the in-actment of internal mental states, which I now see as central to the distinction between individual and social‘pathology’.

In a postscript to the paper, written but not presented at the time, I speculate on the idea of a‘psychic retreat in reverse’, in which organisational meaning is both denied and evaded through a‘privileging of the self’.

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