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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Falling from Grace - When Consultants Go Out of Role: Enactment in the Service of Organizational Consultancy

Despite intentions to the contrary, organizational consultants using a psychoanalytic perspective can and do go out of role. While this is generally thought of as a mistake in practice -- which it often is -- it may also be seen as an enactment of organizational issues otherwise experienced but not 'known'. The concept of enactment comes from the interpersonal school of psychoanalysis. It takes place when patient and analyst, caught up in the powerful unconscious dynamics of the dyad, together engage in an act that -- subsequently illuminated and explored -- reveals core intra-psychic issues of the patient that otherwise had not been recognized. This process ultimately leads to mutative action in the patient. In applying this conceptual frame to consultation, it is then possible to view the various ways in which consultants are pulled out of role as enactments of key organizational issues, rather than 'errors' of practice.