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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Extending The Socioanalytic Foundations Of Trust, Distrust, the Lie, the Secret, Betrayal and Deception

ISPSO was founded in 1983 with the explicit intent to extend the traditional frame of psychoanalysis by focusing on unconscious phenomena and dynamics in groups and organizations. Meanwhile, some thirty years later, we have developed quite a rich store of research, methodologies and literature devoted to a better understanding of organizations in depth. Since the late 1990s, however, restricting ourselves to just the psychoanalytic study of organizations appeared to several of us more and more insufficient, if not misleading. The term socioanalysis, introduced by some of our Australian colleagues in the late 1990s (Bain 1999), has provided us with a more extensive frame. Socioanalysis goes beyond the perception of social systems as isolated organizations and/or groups. (Sievers & Long 2012; cf. Long 2013, xix-xxi). Socioanalysis is at the confluence of various disciplines, theories and approaches to experiential learning; they form the current foundation of socioanalysis. However, the fact that these foundations, with the exception of psychoanalysis, were developed during the second half of the last century, prompted me to explore whether there might be other precursors in fiction and social science literature that could possibly extend us beyond these roots. In taking up this quest, I have been inspired by the work of Susan Long and Maurita Harney (2013) in their deep exploration of Charles Sanders Peirce's (1839-1914) method of abductive logic, which they see as the 'primary philosophy of science' (Long 2013: xxii) underlying socioanalytic working and thinking.With the theme of our symposium in mind, I began searching for authors who, at a time when socioanalysis was still an unthought known, were writing on trust and related issues in a way that could illuminate our socioanalytic perspective. This extensive exploration has ranged quite far and wide.On this occasion, I wish to offer two discoveries. The first one explores the role of trust in exchanges between individuals meeting outside a familiar and containing environment. This source is The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, published in 1857, a novel by Herman Melville, the author of the world-renowned Moby Dick. The second discovery is a book published fifty years later in 1908, that lays the foundation for 'formal sociology' (cf. e.g. Schermer and Jary, 2013a). This source is Sociology. Inquiries into the Construction of Social Forms by Georg Simmel (1908), the German philosopher and sociologist at the turn of the 20th century.