Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

A force, not a labour, a struggle not a thought': Applying the concept of Duende to ethical dilemmas at work

This paper investigates the responses of 49 business leaders to questions of ethics, morality and the future of work in a recent study. The study was done for a company offering outsourced employee assistance programs and was conducted over a period of 12 months using face-to-face, taped interviews. Nearly half of the respondents were espoused Christians, very active in their belief, but their beliefs were an unspoken or uncomfortable part of their business lives. A psychoanalytically informed interpretation of the results supports the observation that for Christian business leaders, the differences between business and Christian narratives brings about defensive splitting, and the consequent impoverishment of creativity. The analysis uses the Kleinian concept of splitting and applies the work of Donald Winnicott (1960) on the development of the 'false self' to the workplace and to religious belief.The larger question of how we know what is ethical is opened up by the poet Lorca, in a way that may be helpful in speaking about Christians who have belief in an Other, but who have then accepted that the Otherness of God is subject to their work selves.