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Eisold, K. (1996). Psychoanalysis today: implications for organizational applications. Free Associations, 6(2):174-191.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(2):174-191


Psychoanalysis today: implications for organizational applications

Kenneth Eisold

The idea for this paper came out of last year's meeting in Chicago. I was struck by a gap between the use of psychoanalytic theories applied to organizations and the actual experience of being a practicing psychoanalyst, at least my experience. Concepts like psychic structure (id, ego and superego) or drives or regression seemed to be applied with a kind of confidence and certainty about their meaning that, frankly, always eluded me in the consulting room but also increasingly, to my mind, seemed outdated in the dialogues among my psychoanalytic colleagues in which I engage. It seemed timely—and possibly even useful—to attempt to speak about this gap.

I should make clear at the start that this paper comes from my experience, which is of course an American one. The issues may look somewhat different over here, and I am sure that any English or continental psychoanalyst would cite different texts and emphasize different points. But that being said, I feel there is sufficient commonality to warrant this effort.

The gap I experienced last year between my clinical practice and the application of psychoanalytic concepts to organizations could be viewed dynamically as a projective process occuring within our own organization. The authority of psychoanalysis is established and reaffirmed at the price of reifying and idealizing it.

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