Help us sharing our research, consultation and experiences

Donate Now

The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM 2024 Annual Meeting & Symposium

ISPSO 40th Annual Meeting


The Call for Papers for the Annual Symposium and the Call for PDWs (Professional Development Workshops) is NOW OPEN - click for details

AM 2024 Theme:

“Civilizations and their discontents”:
What does that mean for the psychoanalytic study of and work with organizations?

In pluralizing Freud’s title word “civilization”, we emphasize that we live in a world where multiple civilisations compete for ideologies, power, resources and territory. Whilst these conflicts are most visible in the international arena, similar dramas are playing out in organizational contexts. The fundamental context for living and working has changed. The Covid pandemic, the increasing urgency of climate change, mass refugee migrations and the loss of the dream of geopolitical stability at a global level have all contributed to this pervasive disruption. Because of these seismic shifts, the underpinning context for organizational work has changed.

An unthinking response to fundamental disruption can lead to amplification of conflict. Radical differences challenge our capacity to act in civilized ways when there is no means to process and digest the fear, anger and anxiety that emerge when civilizations clash. Whilst it is easy to identify inter-national clashes, it is more difficult to own and digest the radical clashes that occur in everyday life, including within and between nations, organizations and communities. Will we need to understand organizing and organizations through a fundamentally different point of view?

A turmoil of hope and fear churns through our lives as we experience radical disruption to many of our previously taken-for-granted patterns, routines and expectations. Can we learn, or perhaps re-learn, how to think together in a way that is embodied, intuitive, relational and emotionally congruent, whist still being purposeful? What else do we need to discover, re-discover and mobilize in order to thrive in a world of multiple civilizations and their discontents?

The loss of delusions, the sense of vulnerability and uncertainty could leave us helpless and fragmented, and yet we need to search for understanding, hope and the means to make a difference. Therefore, what questions should we be asking about our psychoanalytic study of organizations?

The questions below are offered as starting points:

  • If there are now multiple civilizations, each contending with its own pattern of discontents, what are some examples of radical disruptions that occur when these civilizations compete for power, resources and territory: in the world at large, and in some of the ways these radical disruptions play out inside organizations?
  • What are some of the consequences of radical disruption and the exacerbation of differences for organizations? How do they impact our work as researchers and practitioners?
  • Which ideas, perspectives and methods of socioanalysis, systems psychodynamics and psychoanalysis (new and established) can illuminate paths into the future – for organizations, communities and civilizations?
  • In what ways (if any) do our basic theoretical concepts (i.e. transference, containment, projection, primary task, enactment) need to be re-examined for relevance, and what new concepts might emerge as we do so?
  • How do we locate a meaningful place for ourselves in this disrupted world as citizens and as people who are psychoanalytically informed?


Martin Ringer, AM Co-convener:
Antoaneta Mateeva, AM Co-convener: