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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Psychoanalytic reflections on the war in Ukraine

Halina Brunning, Sheila White, and Claudia Nagel

Organisational & Social Dynamics 22(2) 226–244 (2022)

This article, by three authors, Halina Brunning, Sheila White, and Claudia Nagel, reflects on the war in Ukraine that began on 24 February 2022 with an invasion by Russian troops and the events of the following four months. It attempts to capture this period in time and reflects on it in three different ways. The article begins by describing how this collaborative piece of work emerged from an event run by An Organisation for Promoting Understanding of Society (OPUS) and was followed up by an International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations (ISPSO) group, with the aim of discussing the war and sharing thoughts and feelings about it. The body of the article is in three distinct parts. Halina Brunning presents personal reflections to offer a collage of cruelty and heroism, thereby painting a rich picture of the scenes witnessed. Sheila White gives theoretical insights into the war, specifically Putin’s actions, based on her research into workplace bullying. Claudia Nagel analyses Putin’s behaviour from a psychoanalytic group perspective applying the basic assumption mode victimism/supremacism. The conclusion brings together the three strands of the article to agree that from a psychoanalytic perspective Putin will not stop by himself, yet not losing hope is key to survival and reconnection in a humane way.