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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-PP10: Finding the Role of Active Citizen

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Parallel Papers Session 2

Friday 30 June 15.15pm-16.30 SAST - ONLINE
Paper Code: PP10
Finding the Role of Active Citizen

Presenter: Edward R. Shapiro, M.D.


A functioning democratic society needs effective and committed citizens, committed to a transcendent mission beyond themselves. Without the active engagement of citizens, chaos and irrationality reign and authoritarianism flourishes. But for any of us, discovering and claiming a citizen voice on behalf of others is a challenge ─ and a risk. "Why do I have to do this?" is a question any citizen might ask when facing an impulse to act in response to society's needs. Answering that question requires attention to issues of identity: "Who am I, what do I stand for, and why now do I feel moved to act"? Who we are is shaped by our contexts: our families, the institutions we join, and the missions they carry out on behalf of society. Those missions represent our link to transcendent values and beliefs. When we take up the role of citizen, we inevitably represent those contexts and the values that have shaped us.

But our contexts are in transition; their links to society's needs have become unclear. In this lecture, I will review our current social turmoil and the challenges we face, outlining a developmental pathway to the role of citizen and focusing on the impact of social systems ─ families and institutions ─ on identity.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Recognise the difference between relationshipsznd relatedness in role
  2. Recognise the appropriate context to discover shared meaning
  3. identify the range of inputs necessary to discover an institution's mission

Biographical Summary

Edward R. Shapiro, M.D. is the Former Medical Director/CEO of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA. A board certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, family researcher, and organizational consultant, he is also Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. An organizational consultant for over thirty-five years, Dr. Shapiro has consulted with hospitals, mental health clinics, law firms, and family businesses, focusing on organizational transition, mergers, organizational structure and the dilemmas of authority, management and delegation.