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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Forgiveness as a Mediator of Individual Integration and Organizational Reparation: Lessons from Psychoanalysis and Kabbalah.

In recent years, forgiveness has become understood as a fundamental component of the development and transformations of self as well as a key determinant of initiating and maintaining relatedness between individuals. Concurrently, forgiveness also has taken on a role in bridging the decades-old divide between religion and psychoanalysis by providing a central theme pertaining to the way spirituality serves to maintain neuropsychological homeostasis. Mysticism is an extreme manifestation of spirituality. Kabbalah, the most well-known and well-studied form of Jewish mysticism developed in Medieval Spain, and many of the luminaries of Kabbalistic philosophy resided quite close to the site of this years Annual Meeting. Kabbalah is thought to have developed as a result of the confluence of Jewish Rabbinical, Islamic and Christian thinking and traditions, and from the pressure resulting from political persecution typical of that time and place. Upon close inspection Kabbalah has been found to share strikingly similar concepts with psychoanalysis, notably those central to Kleinian Object Relations Theory. This may be exemplified by the creation myths of Lurianic Kabbalah that involve: tsimtsum (Gods self-limitation), shvirath ha-kelim (the breaking of the vessels) and tikkun, with their correspondences in psychoanalytic theory: introjection-projection, fragmentation, and reparation, respectively.Here we extend Kabbalistic and psychoanalytic insights pertaining to forgiveness to organizational phenomena including: mechanisms of behavior change, integration of divergent themes and goals, gender conflicts, and acceptance of diversity. We postulate that forgiveness is a vital component of organizational and cultural containment and, ultimately, integration, and that its absence may contribute to disequilibrium that may be manifested by unresolved conflict, fragmentation and chaos. We consider that indignation is the obverse of forgiveness and strongly counters its beneficial effects. We will illustrate both sides of the issue with vignettes from our consulting practice as well as from past and recent history, and popular culture, including books and movies. Injury that has been forgiven should be forgotten, but the fact that it has been forgotten should be remembered. (Nooteboom, 1980)'