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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Organizational Change and the Analytic Third: Locating and Attending to Unconscious Organizational Psychodynamics

This article examines the concept of the analytic third in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically informed organizational change. The analytic third is often defined as the psychological (triangular) space between self and other, subject and object, fantasy and reality - the third dimension that emerges from two persons fully engaged in the exploration of unconscious meanings, reasons, motives and actions. In neo-Kleinian object relations, it is viewed as the intersubjective dimension of transference and counter-transference, or the emergence in analytic work of the observation and experience of 'I-as-subject and Me-as-object' (Ogden, 1994). The analytic third is what we create when we make genuine contact with one another at a deeper emotional level of experience whether in dyads, groups, communities, or organizations. It might be understood as akin to but not synonymous with Winnicott's (1971) notion of the transitional and potential space, where culture, play, creativity and imagination, reside. A case illustration is provided to better articulate the nature of the analytic third in the processes of observing, participating, and intervening in organizations. Reproduced with permission from Palgrave Macmillan.