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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


Keynote - Dr. Stan Gold
Friday 5 July 2024
11.30am-1.00pm EEST


Sterilise: To make barren, to deprive of fecundity or the power of production-----"Go sterilise the fertile with thy rage". - Samuel Johnson.

Ever since Freud published 'Civilisation and it's Discontents' in 1930, a politically significant time for European civilization, we have been unable to ignore the dichotomy between the developmental advantages for group life at the cost of individual deprivations. Inevitably, the nature of conflict around decision making has preoccupied organisations of all kinds.

Building on Freud's original conception that the conflict was between the wish for instinctive freedom and the contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression, British Philosopher Sir Isiah Berlin, in his book 'Four Essays on Liberty' {i969), cast the conflict in terms of positive and negative Liberty or Freedom.

A minimal understanding of these basic processes, active in all societal groups, may be helpful in taking further our understanding of our own.
All Organizations should be open to discovery and transformation by encountering reality. We must accept the multi-dimensional and indeterminate nature of reality, truth not only seen as hypothetical, but contingent upon the stance of the agent seeking it. However, most organisations have the capacity to broaden the scope of their own structure to include a regular scrutiny of their institutional life, including its conflicts.
Intra-organizational change may, at times, become necessary and inevitable. The question is how may this be effected without altering meaning and without undermining motivation for those who have, often as pioneers, developed and sustained the Organization? The obvious dangers include disaffection and economic or status loss and the disillusionment that accompanies them. The creative potential of the Organization may then be replaced by internal competitiveness, mutual contempt and envy, the work group replaced by less productive group processes, (1), and the results sterility. The Sterile Organization, scientifically, politically, organizationally, risking nothing produces nothing of value. If the only remedy is to update the question of meaning to the pinnacle of a cause, an ideology, then the situation becomes a battle to defend or destroy the focus. In such circumstances it is easy to become confused as to whether one is inspired or misled and a cause, an ideology, can like a boa constrictor, swallow a whole life or a previoosly viable Organization, in a single gulp.
What about respect and equality and their antitheses jealousy and envy? It may be that envy is the disease of poverty (Main 1975). Democracy, even in its appropriate political applications may substantially become a mechanism for defending against envy. That is, the idea that not only do we have equal rights, but also, we are all the same. In acceding to the demands which allow us to belong to a civilized society, we may give up our basically instinctual wishes. This however, is contingent upon others also being deprived of them. This move to equality, the avowed ethic of equal opportunity, may tend only to produce at best, a form of pathological democracy, and at worst a lack of real meaning and motivation. Sterility.

C.V. Summary: Dr. Stanley Gold
MB.BS.(Melbourne). 1957. D.P.M.(London).1961. M.R.A.N.C.P.(1972). MRCP.U.K.(Psych)1975.
Graduating in Medicine in 1957, he undertook training in Psychiatry at Guys/Maudsley hospital London, between 1959 &1964, the final two years as inaugural research fellow in Child Psychiatry. Between 1979 and 1981 he was the Overseas Senior Registrar in Psychotherapy at the Cassell Hospital (a Therapeutic community), Richmond Surry. He was subsequently Associate Psychiatrist Royal Children’s Hospital and senior Consultant Psychiatrist Prince Henry’s hospital Melbourne.
With the development of the Department of Psychological Medicine Monash University he held the positions of Professorial Associate and consultant Psychiatrist and subsequently Senior Lecturer and Chair of the centre for Psychodynamic studies until retiring in 2010. Whilst there he developed the Post Graduate Diploma in Mental Health for members of the teaching professions.
He trained in Psychoanalysis in Australia and London and was appointed a Training Analyst in 1982 and carried out private practice in individual and group psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in Australia, until June 2014. In 2000 he became a member of The International Society for the Psychoanalytic study of Organisations, ( and became President, (2012/2013). He is a current International Consultant to the (International) Journal of Organisational and Social Dynamics.
He is currently a member of the Mental Health Tribunal (VIC), emphasising the protection of Human Rights for individuals on compulsory treatment orders under the Mental Health Act. He also assists in developing equity in the structure and responsibility among disparate professional members of the tribunal.
He has published more than 35 papers in appropriate journals covering child development, research and behaviour; Racism and related topics and socio-dynamic analysis and two books. “How to bring up your parents” Macmillan 1990 and “Unthinkable Evil: Understanding Racism”. 2nd edition. Amazon. 2021;