The cocoon transference: An intrapsychic trap of ambivalence

We describe the "cocoon transference" as resistance to change and suggest ways of intervening in defensive cocoon transferences as part of implementing organizational change. The cocoon transference recreates, or transfers, patterns of non-attachment set in motion early in life. The cocoon transference may be enacted as a defensive process when interpersonal relationships or social settings are perceived as a threat to the self. The workplace presents many interpersonal "dangers" that can trigger a defensive cocoon transference. As a result, people withdraw from important aspects of organizational change (e.g. brainstorming, scenario planning, and strategy formation). In times of stress and change this kind of intrapersonal, ultimately interpersonal, dynamic should be anticipated as a potential barrier to change.