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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021


In an era when psychoanalysis is not merely under attack but increasingly marginalized and often poorly understood if not completely unknown to young, emerging managers and leaders -- how can we convey the value of what we have to offer? What do we do that others don't or can't do? What is the psychoanalytic difference? The public knows psychoanalysis primarily through Freud's theories of development and motivation: such concepts as libido, infant sexuality, and the Oedipus Complex have not only captured the imagination but have been at various times psychoanalytic shibboleths. Often they are joined in the public mind by Adler's 'inferiority complex' and Jung's 'archetypes.' Such theories, nowadays often disparaged by other disciplines, have been largely reformulated by psychoanalysts themselves seeking concepts more aligned with contemporary research and practice; they are not so much disproved as dated. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly for those of us working in organizations, concepts of development and motivation are marginally relevant. Our emphasis has to be on interpersonal, inter-group and system-wide processes.