We all see “bad stuff” that is toxic and traumatic in nature and harmful to others, animals, economies, and the environment. Those that bear witness are fundamentally injured in ways that are individualized and deeply personal. The fantastic nature of the witnessed event(s), such as the recent footage from Ukraine, is accentuated by unconscious dynamics such as fantasies, selective retention and recall, and mediated by rationalization and denial, transforming the moral injury to make it tolerable. What happened is manipulated in mind to minimize the stress of the witnessing and the anxiety about having “helplessly” observed. Bearing witness suggests that writing and speaking about the “knee on the neck” also helps to “process” what was witnessed.Read more...
Unpacking Squid Games
On the surface, the Squid Game is a sustained critique of class and ultimately the egregious excesses of contemporary capitalism. Akin to the highly successful Hunger Games franchise, poor contestants are pitted against each other by the wealthy, and the audience invariably identifies with the few proletarian protagonists who display some moral compass amid a primitive “dog-eat-dog world” at once contrived and sensational and yet a direct mirror of contemporary society. Below the surface, however, and in addition to what some critics may see as mere “pretense at social commentary,” the Squid Game succeeds at offering incisive organizational commentary, and particularly at illuminating the terrifying efficiencies of state-sponsored and organizational violence. Indeed, for the psychosocially-informed viewer, the series has many easily observed organizational linkages, most notably elements of the Nazi era, but also much of the history of mercantilism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and ill-conceived but common organizational change dynamics such as downsizing resident in the plot.
Understanding organizational splits
Divisions (based on specialization) within organizations are necessary for efficiency, accountability, and reliability. However, these divisions increase the possibility of both structural conflict and the development of emotionally charged organizational splits. Taking a longitudinal approach by facilitating the reconstruction of the history of the problematic organizational split can open a safe and reflective space where organizational members can freely explore their experiences and begin the healing process. Psychoanalytically informed executives, consultants, and action researchers, guided by experience, reflectivity and intuition, can effectively coach organizational members through this process.