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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM22-PP6: The traumatised field: innovating interventions in the light of post-Bion field theory

Parallel Papers Session 2
Friday 1 July 2.45pm-4:00pm (14.45-16.00) CEST
Paper Code: PP6
CE credits available

The traumatised field: innovating interventions in the light of post-Bion field theory developments in group- & psycho-analysis

Presenter: Richard Morgan-Jones & Marina Mojovic

The presenters will present their paper and enter into a dialogue with each other, which will then move to include the audience. At certain points we may ask people to break into pairs or threes where they sit to exchange their responses to the presentation.


This presentation will outline developments in analytic field theory, provide a glossary of key terms and indicate stances for consulting inspired by this thinking. This will be illustrated by work done by the authors in addressing the field of traumatised systems. A. will outline the model of Reflective Citizen events to accompany people across time in traumatised experiences in former Yugoslavia, with application to organizational life. B. will describe the trilogy event from the first Poland on the Couch conference that conceived of Poland as a conscious and unconscious traumatised field explored as an encapsulated invasive object.

Field theory provides a key metaphor and resource for consulting to fast moving unpredictable organizational and social life. This opens up new understandings of psychoanalysis beyond positivistic cause and effect when, as in systems thinking, there are multiple interacting causes and effects. This new thinking seems to have begun with the thinking of Kurt Lewin who first introduced to the psychology of persons, groups and organisations, the new scientific approach and metaphor of field theory developing within quantum physics and perceiving the universe as an expanding system. Lewin’s influence on Bion and his work on groups coincided with Foulkes development of group-analysis with his concepts of the dynamic and foundational matrix. The main developments in psychoanalytic field theory draw on Bion’s idea of seeking to dream up experience and new thinking drawn from unconscious associations, elaborations and transference/counter-transference relatedness.

Meanwhile, in Argentina and Uruguay, Pichon Riviere was developing his approach to organizations and groups with his distinctive idea of el vinculo (the bond), while his students Willy and Madeleine Barranger applied Bion’s group approach to the psychoanalytic “group-of-two” representing a much wider field of internal and external figures. The latest developments of this approach are to be found in the post-Bion Field Theory of Italian psychoanalysts through the work of Ferro and Civitarese. This work draws inspiration from Bion’s final fictional autobiography Memoir of the Future in which he returns to his group focus conceiving of the internal group within himself.

Developments of field theory move from the idea that the consultant has to provide containment, towards the idea that the consultant and the client together have to build the container for emotional engagement in the work and its meaning, out of the dreams, transference/countertransference between them and the design and innovation of the setting and the expanding multiple universes it evokes. Concepts from these developments will be outlined and illustrated.

Each concept de-centres the importance of the projective processes, which wider and deeper exploration of introjective identifications through characters emerging to be experienced and given voice. It provides space for collaborative exploration of metaphorical prisms through which helplessness can be transformed into new positions in working lives beyond mere survival.

Biographic Summary: Richard Morgan-Jones

Group relations, organisational consultant and coach and supervising senior psychoanalytic psychotherapist of the British Psychotherapy Foundation, member British Psychoanalytic Council and OPUS. Distinguished member of the International Society for Psychoanalytic Society of Organizations. Mentor A.K.Rice Institute. Visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India and the Higher School of Economics (HSE) and the Association of Psychoanalytic Coaches and Business Consultants (APCBC) Moscow. Director Work Force Health: Consulting and Research. Author of The Body of the Organisation and its Health, London: Karnac.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of the session:

  1. Participants will be able to recognize the history of field theory in pre- & post-Bion Psychoanalytic and group-analytic thinking.
  2. Participants will be able to identify how the concept of traumatised peoples can be used for socio-analytic engagement.
  3. Participants will be able to distinguish between the use of key terms in post-Bion-field theory and how it can be developed for group and systems engagement.