Contents Vol. 20.1



Group Relations, innovation, and the production of nostalgia                                          

Carlos Sapochnik


The paper explores the concept of nostalgia from both phenomenal and interpretative perspectives as experienced within and generated by group relations conferences and other group activities like sport, drama or music. It posits that nostalgia inevitably emerges in group relations conferences to sustain primitive fantasies and the work of mourning necessary for psychic growth. The paper then reflects on the dual purpose of conference titles as setting objectives to the exploration but also as a protection from wild thoughts, enactments, and thus the unmitigated brutality of the experience of the unconscious in groups. It calls attention to how the intention to apply conference learning arises from (and contributes to) an overdetermined ambivalent relationship of group relations with psychoanalysis.



Space lost, space found – A psychodynamic perspective on spaces, places,

architecture and furniture inside and around us.

Steen Visholm



This paper presents some considerations and perspectives on the issue of how to deal with rooms, spaces, places and bodies informed by psychodynamic theory and practice. The armchair and the famous couch in the classic psychoanalytic arrangement, and the serious occupation with chairs in group relations and group analysis (circles and spirals, all the chairs of the same kind, no special chair for the group convenor) indicate that space and furniture are important. The reluctance to experiment with space and settings may signify that important areas may need to be investigated.

The paper presents a number of basic concepts that we apply and further develop to capture the impact of space and design on social and organisational dynamics in the network society and the interplay between conscious and unconscious motives in space and design: Container, Projective space, Presenting oneself, Staging and being staged, Destruction and creativity: the making of culture and history and The house, the senses and the organization of memory.



Political risks of recovering and discovering meanings in the collective memory of a perverse religious organization

Eduardo Acuña Aguirre


The paper refers to the political risks that a group of five parishioners, members of an aristocratic catholic parish located in Santiago Chile, had to face when they recovered and discovered unconscious meanings about the hard and persistent psychological and sexual abuse they suffered in that religious organisation. Recovering and discovering meanings, from the collective memory of that parish, was a sort of conversion event in the five parishioners that determined their decision to bring to the surface of Chilean society the knowledge that the parish functioned as a perverse organisation, led by the priest Fernando Karadima. That determination implied that the five individuals had to struggle against powerful forces in society, including the dominant Catholic Church in Chile and the political influences from the conservative catholic elite that attempted to ignore the existence of the abuses denounced. The result of the paper explains how the five parishioners, through their concerted political actions and courage, forced the Catholic Church to recognize, in an ambivalent way, the abuses committed by Karadima. The theoretical basis of this presentation is based on a socio-analytical approach that mainly considers the understanding of perversion in organisations and their consequences in the control of anxieties.



On teaching Winnicott The charms and challenges of Winnicott’s concepts                    

Elisha Davar  Published posthumously. Loosely edited by Martijn van der Spek


This paper examines the responses of students on being introduced to several of Winnicott’s major concepts: transitional space, illusion, good enough mothering, true and false self. Building on Ogden’s idea that Winnicott’s style of writing and form of presentation is inseparable from the ideas he wishes to convey, this paper shows how students evolved a developmental framework for themselves with the aid of Winnicott’s theory. The new theory itself becomes a transitional object for further use and elaboration. Various examples of students responses to the paper on transitional phenomena are cited, in addition to an examination of their responses to the application of transitional theory to organisations


Psychological Containment of Organisational Toxicity and its Spillovers 

Ajeet N. Mathur 


Organisational toxicity can thwart creation and sharing of knowing necessary for collaborations. Psychological phenomena lurking in covert processes affects dynamics of containment and spillovers of organisational toxicity. This study discusses insights from four longitudinal action research studies in organisations across a spectra of technologies and technology intensities  to examine containment and spillovers of organisational toxicity. The paper concludes that strategic juxtaposition of ends, ways, and means requires socio-technical structures to provide reliability; techno-economic systems for coping with anxieties around uncertainties of value-adding functions; and, socio-economic processes for credibility and aesthetics to promote harmony. Together, under certain conditions, this trine of structures, systems and processes may facilitate mitigation of toxicity with more understanding of the toxicity bred in systems from introjections, projections, transferences and counter-transferences.  Sustaining a shared core to cultivate inner awareness and wisdom for the common good requires hermeneutic endeavours to work with unconsciously held phenomenal primary tasks. The paper raises new research questions for understanding the scope and limits of these conditions in old and new combinations of scale, growth and dominance.


Accounts of interventions


We can´t help feeding the monster

The Social Handling of Uncertainty in an Environment of High Risk and Fast-Paced Change

Øyvind R. Haugen and Jens Preil 


In this paper the authors present a case study that they conducted in the research and development organisation of a global pharmaceutical company. The aim of the study was to explore the social handling of uncertainty in a business environment characterized by high risk and fast-paced change. The authors present a new methodological approach in which they combine grounded theory and depth hermeneutic analysis to gain access to the social reality of the organization. The creation of work role identities and social imaginaries were the two main variables emerging from the data. The authors discuss how certain coping strategies against anxiety and emotional distress affect the design and execution of work processes. Furthermore, they explore to what extent social-scientific research methods can be applied to study the unique observations and interpretations made by the organisation´s members, and how this knowledge can inform the development of organisations and management of change processes.


Speaking Out


Working with the symptom – A new perspective on dealing with low well-being in organizations

Moritz Senarclens de Grancy and Caroline Rook


The changes in the modern working world bring increasing health burdens for employees. Indeed, stress counts for 44% of all work-related diseases across all industries and professions in the United Kingdom and accounts for 54% of all working days lost due to ill health (Health & Safety Executive, 2019). For many employees, but also for executives, diseases might prove to be the last lifeline in permanently stressful work situations. This article describes how psychoanalytic thought on health in the workplace can help coaches and executives understand how stress and mental health problems provide the starting point for an examination of the organisation’s culture and ultimately can help on the journey of developing healthy and productive workplaces.




Greed, Hatred and Delusion in Organisational Life

Tim Dartington


Following  the Tavistock tradition of psychoanalytic thinking, object relations theory, group relations training, a systems psychodynamic approach to the study of organisational life, I broaden that perspective to inquire into the relevance of an upsurge of interest in Buddhist philosophy and practice, with its influence on mindfulness programmes to counter stress in contemporary life, as well as classical philosophy,  for example  Stoic writings on material success and attitudes to mortality.   Why this interest at this time?    What are we looking to learn?        




International Listening Post report summary: The world at the dawn of 2020

Ulrike Beland and Dimitrios Vonofakos


On or around 8 January 2020, 22 Listening Posts were conducted in 18 countries around the world: Argentina, Brazil, Canada (2), Chile, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy (4), Poland, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey and UK. This report synthesizes the reports of the Listening Posts and extracts general themes and patterns.


Film Review

VAMIK’S ROOM a new vision of global diplomacy, a film by Molly Castelloe  Large Group Films, 2018

Reviewed by Renate Grønvold Bugge



Elisha Davar By Martijn van der Spek