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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Fundamentalism and the Search for Mature Hope

I am grateful to OPUS for giving me this opportunity to revisit both Eric's work and my relationship with him. I knew Eric best in 1981 and 1982, when I came to Tavistock to learn from him and Isabel Menzies. At the time he was working with the ideas that later became the article he co-authored with Olya Khaleele, called 'Beyond the small group: society as an intelligible field of study'(1985). That article had a large impact on me because it provided a frame-work for understanding the changing organizational world in group relations terms. My intention here is to build on that perspective in order to frame a discussion of fundamentalism in terms of shifting basic assumption life, centring on their idea that different basic assumption groups emerge from the primordial proto-mental ooze to shape the overall emotional texture of large scale societal dynamics.