Your company on the couch

November 13, 2009

Wednesday’s Financial Times has a great article with New York psychoanalyst and organisational consultant Larry Gould on the application of psychoanalysis to organisations. It’s great to see a mainstream paper like the FT taking up the challenge of writing about irrational behaviour and the unconscious in such an accessible way.

Mr Gould’s psychoanalytical work, like Bion’s teaching, goes beyond conscious behaviour, the preserve of most psychologists, to try to overcome unconscious problems, such as bringing your earliest relationships with your parents into the workplace.
Bion understood the various patterns of feelings, behaviour and relationships that can take place in group situations, says Mr Gould. For example, employees might have an unconscious anxiety about survival, such as who is going to keep their job in a downsizing or who gets a salary rise.
“The advantage of the psychoanalytic lens is that it adds a critical dimension to understanding behaviours which cannot be accounted for by other theories,” Mr Gould says. For example, a poorly performing executive might be offered executive coaching by his company. But a closer, analytic study of the executive would reveal the real reasons he has been performing badly.

Larry Gould also refers to the fact that he doesn’t alert business clients to the fact that he is a psychoanalyst because of the negative associations..I find it to be the case also that my training as a psychotherapist isn’t something I foreground when working in a business context but ultimately it’s the key elements when I’m working with ‘stuckness’ and relationship management in the workplace.

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