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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Cornerstone of Psychoanalytic Organizational Analysis: Psychological Reality, Transference and Counter Transference in the Workplace

We start with the premise that organizations are processes of human behavior that are experienced as experiential and perceptual systems governed by unconscious processes. This starting point leads us to discuss psychoanalytically informed organizational perspectives as a means of understanding how psychological reality shapes organizational dynamics. In particular, we argue that psychoanalytic organizational diagnosis requires a central role for transference and counter-transference. That is, interpreting data through the lens of transference and counter-transference assists in unpacking organizational identity and culture by relying upon an 'experience near' stance for examining the narratives of organizational life. This introspective and empathic stance makes transference and counter-transference one of the core elements of a psychoanalytically informed organizational consultation. We provide a case illustration and conclude with some thoughts on how leaders and members of organizations can improve organizational performance by attending to the complex nature of psychological reality in the workplace. The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Human Relations, 56, 4, April, 2003 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. (c) Human Relations.