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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

New Horizons or Smoke and Mirrors? The dilemma of trust and unconscious shame on the capacity to change the Banking Sector

This paper firstly aims to offer a developing point of view based on my experiences having worked in the Banking Sector for over a decade now, both as a senior executive and as an external consultant designing, driving and leading the implementation of change and leadership development agendas required in the sector and outlined by various regulatory bodies across the globe. Secondly, it aims to initiate dialogue about the social contractand the dynamics that have been emerging between Institutions of the Banking Sector and customers of these Banks, broadly speaking in the realms of trust. I argue that there is an incongruence between the normative and phenomenal primary task of Banking and an it is rooted in an illusionary, yet unconsciously held aspect of the social contract: that is of the Banking Sector to embody eternal safety, while fulfilling unlimited desires in order to reduce existential anxiety. The impossibility or partial possibility of fulfilling the primary task and the unbearableness of the impact the phenomenal primary task of Banking has on society have led to perverse relationship (Long, 2008) between customers of banking and Banking that is based on false selves rather than authenticity, yet with both parties having great vested interest to maintain this relationship otherwise the angst would not be held. As a consequence of the financial crisis, the primary task has become unattainable, creating additional anxiety in the system, surfacing severe, conflicting and solidified emotions, such asunconscious and embodied shame as a result of the conflict between wanting to maintain, yet recognizing the unattainability of this relatedness. Using my experiences of working as a senior executive in a global universal bank with the task of driving culture change, I argue that the current dynamics are symptoms of a role lock (Bogdanoff and Elbaum, 1978) and also serve as a systemic aversion againstre-thinking roles and practices towards the position institutions and individuals hold in a free market economy based capitalist society and the definition of trust. I explore the erosion of trust and how it is related to former idealization to current denigration (Klein, 1946) of Banking and the ambivalence one has towards taking up one's own authority in being a member of a capitalist society and the way in which it uses Banking.