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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

I will not let thee go, except thou bless me!' Some Considerations About the Constitution of Authority, Inheritance and Succession

In a final large group session of a Working Conference in the Tavistock group relations tradition, members were concerned about who would get the consultants' 'blessing' as confirmation of their learning during the course of the conference. Some members referred to Jacob's fight at the river Jabbok and other parts of the Jacob legend from the Old Testament book of Genesis as a metaphoric frame to disentangle and explore their experiences. This concern mirrored a more general theme, which is as old as mankind the theme of inheritance and succession. In this paper this theme will function as a frame for a broader exploration of the Jacob legend, the early development of psychoanalysis, the Tavistock tradition of group relations, and the experience of organizational role holders in family businesses and other organizations. Instead of merely regarding inheritance and succession as a handing over, it will be postulated that assuming an inherited legacy requires a certain self-authorisation on the part of the heir in order to own and further develop it. The capacity for containment of frustration and the ability to feel the pain of longing are requisites for ultimately taking up one's inheritance in the ongoing tradition of one's world.'