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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Dublin 2018

Psychoanalytic Explorations

Publisher Location:

ISPSO 35th Annual Meeting
Dublin (Ireland) 18th - 24th June 2018

AM2018 Website (archive)

We live and work in fast changing times, where what was taken-for-granted can no-longer be relied upon. The digital age and network society are disrupting traditional organizations, and accepted norms are being challenged in every sector. This symposium will explore what conscious and unconscious desires and defences are at play for individuals and collective groups in today’s workplaces.

It invites you to apply a psychoanalytical lens using two distinct ways of looking. To be human is both to desire and to be anxious. It is also about defending against those anxieties particularly in uncertain times, and unchartered waters.

Desire in psychoanalytical terms
When we are able to understand and act out of our desires, the result can be positive and generative for employees and for the organization as a whole. However, we often disown or repress our desires leaving us feeling empty and dissatisfied. The resultant void demands to be filled up in order to defend against feelings of disappointment, frustration and envy.

Freud suggests that we can only know the state of ‘complete satisfaction’ if we experience its absence. He suggests that it is through a capacity to ‘hold’ and work through the frustration of ungratified desire and not succumb to the infantile impulse for instant gratification, then we can keep our desire alive. Organizationally, this represents a more developmentally mature way of functioning which can obviate a retreat to social defences.



Social Dreaming: 7.30-8.30
Keynote: 9.45-11: Simon Western: Locating Ourselves, Organizations and Psychoanalysis

Break: 11-11.30am

11.45am-1pm. First parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Larry Hirschhorn: Leadership, contrasting the impersonal and the interpersonal stance (A).
Philip Boxer: Thinking psychoanalytically about desire in organizations: why we need a third epoch (A).
Bonnie Oglensky: When Authority Meets Love: Ambivalence in Mentorship (A)
Gry Osnes and Liv Hok (co-author): The police and us, the family owners and us (P). *Gry Osnes presenting on behalf of both authors.
Celina Rodriguez Drescher: Lost Homes: a consultancy to helpers of a transitional refugee centre in Germany (P)
Barbara Wren & Megan Joffe: Expressions of Ambivalence in systems in crisis: medical leadership (P)

Lunch: 1-2pm

2- 3.15pm: Second parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Rachel Ellison: Desires and Defences – Leadership in a Refugee Context – Dublin 2018 (P).
Nathan Gerard and Carrie Duncan: Why use psychoanalysis? Desire, defense, and the invitation to creatively destroy (A)
Ernest Fruge, Mogomotsi Matshaba, Joseph Lubega, Kristi Wilson-Lewis & Gladstone Airewele: Complexities of Partnership Development in Global Child Health Programs (A)
Mark Argent: Revisiting Oedipus as a resource for exploring desires and defences across cultures (A)
Barbara Williams: Desiring Whiteness: anti-racism and the work of questioning master signifiers (P).

Judy Furnivall: Desire and destruction love and loathing – the struggle to contain splitting and projection in the residential child care sector: a national and local story (P) and, Brian Melaugh: The centre will hold – the role of Residential Childcare Leadership in Containing Emotions of Change: A journey from Despair to Potency. (A) This session is a joint session or Sub-Plenary. Extra time is provided to facilitate both authors.

Break: 3.15-3.45pm

A choice of four events including We’re Really Bad at Marketing Ourselves: Defences and Desires about the Work We Do with Jack Marmorstein. Other events TBC


Saturday 23rd June

Social Dreaming: 7.30-8.30
Keynote: 9.45-11am: Melissa Gregg: Defences Against the Desire to be Productive

Break: 11-11.30am

11.45am-1pm Third parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Annemette Hasselager & Birgitte Bonnerup: What is this thing called love? (A)
Gry Osnes & Helle Anholm: Genera and Knowledge; The Binding and Unbinding of Desire (A)
Fabio D’Apice & Monica Velarde Lazarte: Intrusive desire – the psychodynamics of cybersecurity (P).
Jeff de Kleijn & Simon Western: Digital Age technologies at work: desires and defences (P)
Emma Tranchina and Helen McKelvie: Successful succession: Creating Space for giving up and taking up (P)
Darren Thomas Baker & Elizabeth Kelan: Splitting and Introjection: Tracing the Senses of the Neoliberal Subject (A)

Lunch: 1-2pm

2- 3.15pm: Fourth parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Kristina Karlsson: When desiring to ‘do good’ is not enough: the challenges to authority of a public sector organisation in Australia (P)
Irena Izotova: At the crossroads of conflicting desire: how the shareholders’ unconscious drives can divert the business from doing its primary task and what can a consultant’s job be to help it get back on track (a practical case study) (P)
Adrienne Candy: Walking the Tightrope: Desire and Defensiveness in Organisational Change and Transition. (P)
Hüseyin Özdemir & Barbara Lagler Özdemir: Digital workplace: where desire meets resistance (P)
Anne McCarthy: Termination of Pregnancy, The Desire and Defences (P)
Carrie Duncan: Leadership, Modes of Experience, and Frontline Turnover (A)

Break: 3.15-3.45pm

3.45-5pm: Fifth parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Paul Dolan & Frances Heery: Organisational identity as a mix of desires and defences reflected through story, symbol, myth, ritual and legend(P)
Jack Marmorstein: From Systems Psychodynamics to Network Psychodynamics: a 25 year Corporate History (P)
Sharon Mason: The Co-optation of Desire in Organisations (A)
Stanley Gold: Unthinkable evil: Desire for & Defence against the Internal Object (A)
Noel Keane: Consulting to staff teams facing emotionally demanding tasks and the maintenance of resilience (P)
James Walker: Experience with Modelling Options for Decision-Making within the Organisational System (P)


Sunday 24th June

Social Dreaming: 7.30-8.30
Breakfast: 8:30-9:30
Keynote: 9.30-10.30am: Paula Meehan: Home by Starlight — a Poetry Reading

Break: 10:30-11.00am

11.00am-12:15pm: Sixth parallel papers session: (A) academic (P) praxis

Richard Morgan-Jones: Contemporary approaches to transference and counter-transference in consultancy (P)
Kenneth Eisold: Working with the Nine percent: Organisation anxieties under financialized capitalism (P)
Aideen Lucey: Dreaming as data (A)
Mick Price: Group Analysis- elitist/intellectual and irrelevant or an untapped resource? Experiences of relevance in an Irish charity (P)
Evelyn Gilmore: The desires and defences of middle and senior managers during an organisational change process (P)
Jenny Smith: An existential analysis of absurdity in organisational life – made visible through use of metaphor and the Lacanian Plus-one group (A)

End of Day Reflections and Handover to New York AM: 12.20pm – 1pm

FINAL Lunch: 1-2pm