Gould Center presents: What lies beneath resilience

During times of severe crisis and turmoil, as experienced globally in the last few years, leadership is a critical resource in staying connected with social and organizational reality. This presentation will first describe how the 33 Chilean miners, trapped almost two-thousand feet below ground for 69 days, shared forms of leadership that activated group resilience. Qualitative data reveals how the miners as a group engaged in shared agency. A sophisticated work capacity and a constructive relational dynamic evolved, helping them absorb severe strain and anxiety. Their distribution of leadership was essential for promoting collective sense-making and emotional containment. There will also be an opportunity to think together about how some of what has been learned from this paradigmatic case might be applied to contemporary organizations within their complex and shifting reality.

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The implicit teacher

Perlitz (2019) sets forth the implicit qualities of an analyst (i.e. “the analyst acting and reacting based on her storehouse of relational, procedural memory”, p. 429) that make a difference in how the relationship between the analyst and the patient unfolds. They are both transformed by the implicit relational process that they co-construct. Given this hoped for outcome, the subjectivity of the analyst plays a critical role in helping the patient. In other words, we bring our whole selves to the analytic endeavor, as analyst and as patient. Holding this idea in concert with the compelling evidence that the therapeutic alliance trumps technique in promoting insight and change, it’s not far to the conclusion that who the analyst is must be more important than what the analyst does.

Perlitz notes “Although the general importance of the analyst's personality has been noted, there has been little attempt to delineate specific (italics in original) qualities of the analyst's personality that may be conducive to psychotherapy” (p. 429). Reading teaching through this lens we might ask ourselves – who must the teacher be in order to produce the student? Beyond that, who must the teacher be to produce a learner?

Join us for a discussion of the psychoanalytic approach to teaching at our 3rd biennial workshop entitled: "New Engagement with the Future: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Anxieties and Defenses in Teaching and Learning (about Management and Organizations)". The workshop will be presented online as part of the annual symposium of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations on June 29, 2022 at 6:30am CST.

For more information and to sign up visit: https://am2022.ispso.org/AM22-Workshops

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Psychoanalysis, teaching, and learning

CPOS is proud to present their third biennial workshop, "New Engagement with the Future: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Anxieties and Defenses in Teaching and Learning (about Management and Organizations)". The workshop will be presented online as part of the annual symposium of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations on June 29, 2022 at 6:30am CST.

For more information and to sign up visit: https://am2022.ispso.org/AM22-Workshops

CPOS associates will share their experiences at the intersection between psychoanalysis, educational institutions, and classroom teaching practices – focusing on how we see psychoanalysis as potentially disruptive to dominant theories, practices, and discourses of teaching and learning. Psychoanalysis usefully provides important concepts that can help us unpack unconscious meanings and motivations – transference and countertransference, splitting and projection, denial and defense, illusion and disillusionment. And, it offers something more – a way of being and working in the space of education that has the potential to encourage reflection in action and support our efforts to work together to move past the trauma of the pandemic and build a better world.

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The psychodynamics of bearing witness

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.

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Toward therapeutic politics

Elizabeth Young-Bruehl (2011) explores the history of theorizing a Marx-Freud (socialism-psychoanalysis) synthesis. Of particular interest is “socialist psychoanalysis”, its practical aim of healing “social-political trauma”, and how it has evolved since World War II. The eventual aim of the paper is to apply psychoanalytic insights to understand and prevent prejudice.

The article invites us to (re)consider the dualities inherent in psychoanalytic thinking: private and public, individual and social, self and other. In doing so, a psychoanalytic perspective is offered for thinking about the psychosocial consequences of trauma at multiple levels: individual, family, organization, and society.

The article, though not explicitly, also invites us to consider the organizational realm in terms of “allowing for adult dependency needs”, the dynamics of caring organizations, and the dynamics of leading and following (see Howell & Itzkowitz (2018) on the social origins of psychopathy). As such, it connects to current conversations about social (organizational) psychoanalysis as a “pragmatic theory” concerned with ameliorating social trauma.

Ultimately, the article is a call to a politically active psychoanalysis. One that recalls the early years of working with the poor, delivering care to the injured, and maintaining a vibrant presence in communities and society.

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