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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Symbiotic Lure: Organizations as Defective Containers

The purpose of this article is to explore the psychodynamics of regression in organizations. First, the paper presents a brief critique of the rationalist and mechanistic approaches to organizations and their selective inattention to subliminal and unconscious aspects of organizational life, particularly regressive actions. Then, the association between psychological regression and organizational identity is explored with an emphasis on group psychology. Next, the symbiotic lure is introduced as a metaphor for understanding collective regression. Members react to their anxieties about change at work by denying their individual differences and psychologically merging with each another. This common form of regressive withdrawal among organizational participants under stress, threatens participation, consensual decision making, learning and effectiveness.