Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Psychotic university

Building on my earlier reflections on the Psychotic Organization (Sievers, 1999; 2006), I would like to focus here on the psychotic dynamics of the contemporary university 'the German university in particular' which is, at present, undergoing major changes resulting from a fundamental reform of European higher education. This paper is guided by the working hypothesis that the present initiation and implementation of university reform is, to a large extent, inducing defences against psychotic anxieties on the side of university organizational role holders and thus favouring a psychotic organizational dynamic. To the extent that the psychotic parts dominate, the university itself becomes broadly or even predominantly psychotic. I will elucidate the psychotic university dynamic concomitant with the university reform by elaborating the following four phenomena: (1) University reform fosters an organizational culture dominated by a totalitarian state of mind. (2) Economic values and practices have become the guiding paradigm of university reform; this praxis is reproduced in the theory and teaching of economics. (3) University reform is partly founded on magic thinking. (4) It is characterized by the view that knowledge, rather than thinking and understanding, is primary. An elucidation of the inevitable resulting traumas appears towards the end of the paper.