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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Forward: The Unconscious at Work

Writing this introduction offered me an opportunity to remember my own experiences in the Consulting to Institutions Workshop that served as a kind of incubator for the ideas developed in these chapters. That was over ten years ago, and although only one of the authors represented in this volume was in the Workshop at that time, the same spirit of integrity, forthrightness, and compassion that touched me so then has clearly remained in force since, if these papers can be taken as an indication The central themes of these articles concern the capacity of human service professionals to confront the powerful and primitive emotional states that underlie helping relationships (especially with people in dire need), and consider how the staff members of these organizations can function effectively without becoming chaotic or withdrawn. Another is how the organizational arrangements themselves - the structures, cultures, modes of operation, etc. - can help or hinder in protecting this precious capacity.