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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-QC-PP20: Spirit in Organisations: the coming into being

Parallel Papers Session 4
Saturday 1 July 14.00pm-15.15 SAST - ONLINE

Spirit in Organisations: the coming into being

Presenter: Prof. Susan Long


The Grubb Institute’s Transforming Experience Framework has “Source” as one of the key dimensions of experience, along with person, role, system and context. Source relates to spirituality and purpose of the spirit. All dimensions of experience are relevant to group and organisational work (Long 2016).

Fredrich Schelling, 19th Century philosopher and first to systematically describe the unconscious, describes the emergence of spirit from the unconscious towards consciousness and being: a journey for all humans (McGrath) perhaps for all living systems including groups and organizations.

This paper argues that source and spirit do not have to be introduced or re-introduced to organisational life. They are there. We just need to uncover their presence, their coming into being, their expression, repression and/or perversion and the ways in which reparation can occur to allow for the psychological development of both organization members and organizations themselves.

The paper is organized in three sections

The first explores Schelling’s theory of the unconscious and the idea of Source in the Grubb framework. Schelling predated and perhaps was prescient about many psychoanalytic concepts.

The second links these ideas into organizational work and examines the dynamics of spirit and source in organizational life. References to Wilfred Bion’s theories.

The third argues for reparative measures to overcome the damaging effects of repressive and perverse dynamics, while recognizing the nature of the societal context and the constant repetition of destructive societal conditions.

Some case material will be introduced to illuminate the ideas.


Civitarese, G (2019) ‘On Bion’s Concepts of Negative Capability and Faith’ Psychoanalytic Quarterly 88,4.
Long, S.D. (2016) (ed) Transforming Experience in Organisations: A framework for organisational research and consultancy. London: Karnac.
Long, S.D. (2021) ‘Repairing the damage: wishful, defensive, or restorative’ Organisational and Social Dynamics 21 (1) 28–39
Long, S.D. (2018) ‘The Unconscious won’t go Away – Especially in Organisations’ ’Organisational and Social Dynamics
McGrath, S.J. (2013). The Dark Ground of Spirit: Schelling and the Unconscious. E version London and N.Y.: Routledge. (Originally published 2011).
Mc Grath (2010) ‘Shelling on the Unconscious’ Research in Phenomenology 40; 72–91
Schelling, F.W.J. The Ages of the World (written 1814-15). Translated by Fredrick de Wolfe Bowman Jnr. Columbia University Press (1942).
Schelling, F.W.J. Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom Translated and with an Introduction by Jeff Love and Johannes Schmidt (2006). Albany: State University of New York Press.