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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Organisational Destructivity and the Perverse State of Mind

In this paper I'm trying to work on two major ideas. The first is to do with what I see as a cultural movement from 'a culture of narcissism' toward a further development as a perverse culture. I'm not wanting to say that this is all encompassing, but that I think the narcissism and individualism of the late 20th century establishment has, through its values of self, greed, consumerism, acquisition and exploitation, promoted the emergence of perversion and then turned a blind eye to this emergence. This is relevant to and has an effect on organisational life. Perverse dynamics become more evident. The second idea is that whereas the understanding of organisational dynamics has occurred primarily through thinking in terms of neurotic and psychotic processes, this has also promoted thinking about organisations as if they become sick and require healing. That is, it has promoted thinking of organisations within the therapeutic vertex, which has the effect of pathologising organisations, people at work and their group dynamics. The 'perverse' challenges this view because it is not so easily seen as an illness, but often as a corruption which brings in issues of power and social relations with abusive intent. I will suggest that the perverse makes us think of the way people become unconsciously contracted to one another. It brings forward ideas of how people stand in relation to one another and how their ideas promote collective meaning. I am thinking of this as the vertex of social law.