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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-PP18: Many Realities, Many systems: How explore the Embodied Futures with Wonder?

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Parallel Papers Session 4

Saturday 1 July 13.30pm-14.45 SAST - Online
Paper Code: PP18

Many Realities, Many systems: How explore the Embodied Futures with Wonder?

Presenter: Dr. Sari Mattila


The unprecedented changes and unexpected surprises being experienced on many dimensions and worldwide have sparked conversations about over-development, about poverty as a by-product of wealth creation, de-growth, national challenges with crumbling or dysfunctional systems, doomerism, war mindsets, ecological challenges etc. And at the other side of the spectrum are countries which yearn for growth, new opportunities, resurrection and reinterpretation of that which was and can again be, including history, beliefs, systems, practices and mindsets. These polarities have ossified at conscious and unconscious levels.

Drawing on this maze of a problematique, the paper discusses how psychoanalysis / psychodynamic approaches can respond to these challenges from within our competencies and spheres of influence. What needs to change within this applied field? What kinds of new concepts might be needed? What will or could change if one applies the notion of circularity to it? What happens if the Field as a whole includes other species and Nature in its fold? Can psychoanalysis / psychodynamic approaches survive if we do not take all life on the planet and the earth as a system into consideration?

This paper proposes a bodily informed holistic stand on these matters. It discusses how cosmology and beliefs connected with our beliefs on existence spawn concepts. The paper explains why this needs to be a whole body exercise. Bodily approaches also link to what is included in the viewpoints presented within circularity and changes how concepts are used or usable. One example discussed in the paper reflects what happens if the linear polarity of Eros-Thanatos is viewed as circular. Another example, among others, is how the I/we view unconscious and is there a culturally mediated unconscious? Additionally, what if there is a spiritual approach that is not considered as metaphysical but inherently inbuilt in what ways and how the I/we function?

The paper draws from classical and also contemporary psychoanalytic theories. These are then juxtaposed with discussions around Indian philosophies, psychodrama, shamanism, aboriginal views, and occult literature. The aim of the paper is to examine the fluidity and flexibility of the field and its concepts to understand how psychoanalysis / psychodynamics can and may need to accommodate views, examine them and change, in this time and age, in order to be of use to practicing individuals, groups, organisations and systems of different kind.

The paper concludes that perhaps the I/we need to invite the Mystic back on stage and examine the Bionian ‘O’ more closely keeping in mind that no sphere of human influence can be treated as ‘out of bounds’. Artificial boundaries do not take into consideration that we do not live in A reality but many, and those are unique to individuals, groups, organisations, and systems. Rather than pathologising, could we see these with eyes of Wonder?

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Distinguish between different throughts on the themes presented in the paper
  2. Identify how the different strands enrich the theory
  3. Apply these concepts in their interactions
  4. Distinguish between how different strands are similar and how these contribute
  5. Recognize these concepts in their own thinking

Biographical Summary

Dr Sari Mattila
Sari Mattila works with different kinds of groups and individuals in their growth processes. She received her Ph.D. degree in Management and OB/HR from Tampere University of Technology after an integrated Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Joensuu (now part of the University of Eastern Finland). She has been faculty member at IIM Bangalore (2014-2019), the Doctoral Programme Coordinator of the OB/HRM Area (2015-2018) and taught in IIM-B long duration and short duration programmes. She has taught in Master’s and Doctoral Level courses and in Executive Education Programmes at different institutions such as IIM‐A, IIM-T, IIM-V, Institute of Management, Nirma University, Flame School of Business, and CEPT in India besides Tampere University of Technology and University of Turku in Finland. Her courses in Long Duration Programmes and Executive Education Programmes have included Organisational Behaviour, Experiential Learning, Leadership, Cross‐Cultural Management, Creativity, Innovation, Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Mentoring and Coaching, and Socratic Dialogues. She has published in peer reviewed journals, chapters in edited books and co-authored a case registered in the IIMA casebank besides other publications. Her MOOCs on Managerial Ethics: Reflective practices for action designed and developed at IIMB was launched and delivered in 2019 on the edX Platform. She herself draws individual insights and growth from mindfulness practices as part of her interest in experiential learning, dreams and social dreaming matrices, group based psychodrama practices (classical and TSM), yoga, vipassana and philosophical praxis. She uses insights from these in leadership retreats and one-to-one sessions. She can be reached at