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U'ren, R. (1988). Psychoanalysis and business: Alliance for profit. Free Associations, 1O(14):57-61.
  

(1988). Free Associations, 1O(14):57-61

Psychoanalysis and business: Alliance for profit

Richard U'ren

In the last few years, a number of books and articles have been published that purport to document the usefulness of psychoanalytic concepts for the understanding and improvement of business organizations (Goleman, 1984; Kets de Vries, 1984; Kets de Vries and Miller, 1984; ‘Managers’, 1987). One such article appeared in The New York Times on 1 May 1984 (Goleman).

The article, written by Daniel Goleman, reported that irrationality at the executive level was a problem within a number of corporations and companies — a problem that was being looked at by an unusual breed of consultants, many of whom were psychoanalysts. The new working relationship between analysts and business organizations, it was alleged, had been responsible for documenting how extreme irrationality could result in catastrophe for a company and pain for subordinates of the irrational executive. Furthermore, psychoanalysts had been asked to provide corporations with insights into behaviour that ‘even when they are simply categories or descriptions of personality types’ provided a means of ‘coming to grips’ with destructive patterns in the office. ‘Irrational’ behaviour was defined as ‘extreme behaviour that is an expression of emotional difficulty often centring on personal problems that have never been resolved in any other area of life’.

In the article, four irrational styles were defined — the jungle fighter, the schizoid, the obsessive, and the narcissist. The cost to corporations of these various irrational styles was described.

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