Symposium Papers

See the full program for breaks and other day events.


Click “+” below to see more details about a particular paper.


Friday 28 June


Philip Boxer 
Vive la différence: When a choice is not about choosing.

This presentation is about what makes organizations prefer to stick with what they know rather than with what they have yet to learn from their clients about creating value. An organization expects an employee to take the paycheck and get on with her/his life somewhere else. A situation is presented in which this Faustian choice of money over life was refused, revealing the organization’s refusal to engage with both – both doing what it knew and innovating. The case is interesting for what it teaches us about engendering leadership, leadership that lives the difference by not choosing – holding the tension between both.
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Susan Long/ Christine Owen/ Fiona Martin
The shadow side of learning, leadership and culture in emergency services organisations.
This paper will discuss and analyse observed dynamics of leadership in emergency services organisations in Australia where a number of unconscious basic assumptions and archetypes have been identified. As researchers, consultants and practitioners, we draw on our collective experiences in these organisations to examine the interplay of tensions and contradictions in the role of emergency services leaders and their constituencies (communities and the politicians they serve).
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Debra Noumair 
Examining polarities in teaching and learning above and below the surface: The development of “X-ray Vision” in change leaders
Our session will introduce X-Ray Vision, a tool designed to provide practitioners with a method for systematic data collection of the links between overt behavior and covert dynamics in organizational life. The tool also enables practitioners to consider their own experience as a source of data when developing working hypotheses. Participants will have an opportunity to use X-Ray Vision to analyze a case during the session.

Bio Links:
Debra A. Noumair:
Allegra Chen-Carrel:
Abby Johnson:
Stephanie von Numers:
Shana Yearwood:
Sarah J. Brazaitis:

Barbara Williams 
Linking polarities: Relatedness and individuation

More and more, the social justice and feminist organizations with whom I consult are experimenting with co-leadership roles and shared leadership practices. But can leadership be ‘shared’? And what happens then to questions of authority if the paternal function is denounced or denied? Does the ‘father’ live on?
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Steen Visholm 
Networks—Groups—Boundaries: Polarities in network society and new fields to study.

This paper will explore:
1. Groups and networks—a short history of two influential social concepts and movements.
2. Differences and similarities between groups and networks.
3. Detour—how to use psychoanalytic understanding outside the consulting room (Alfred Lorenzer).
4. Ideas for how to address network dynamics, combining network and group dynamics from a psychoanalytic point of view.

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George Bermudez 
Specificity theory as inspiration and an organizing principle for psychoanalytic whole systems work.

This paper discusses a potential extension of “Psychoanalytic Specificity Theory” from its original dyadic application to whole systems change, and focus on the author’s experiences and emerging intuitions in applying “Psychoanalytic Specificity Theory” to systems change in psychoanalytic institutes.

Susan Campbell/ Linda Lee/ Michael Grace/ Karen Olver 
Problems at the Poles: Exploring the dynamics of boundary management in organisations through an action research case study. 
Despair, domination, denial and dependency. Imagine being a manager where these feelings are part of your every day. You feel like you have no voice, authority nor influence in a tightly bounded, hierarchical structure. Yet at the same time, you witness people being rewarded for breaking the rules, behaving badly and working around the structures, creating an underbounded underworld. Polarised systems can co-exist. In this session, we recount our story of discovering these dynamics in a ‘normal’ organisation and, with Kenwyn Smith (moderator), we explore learnings relevant for managers, consultants and the curious.

Bio links:
Linda Lee
Susan Campbell
Michael Grace
Karen Olver

Carrie Duncan
Reconnecting Polarities: Interpreting organizational identity in the change process. 

James Krantz 
Institutional Integrity, Containment and Polarization  
When the requirements of an institution’s mission collide with the hopes, needs, and expectations of its people, leaders can face a painful choice. Either corrupt the institution by compromising its mission or betray those whose commitment and loyalty are essential. This tribute to Wesley Carr explores the notion of “virtuous betrayal” that was developed in an earlier paper and links it to issues of institutional integrity.
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Michelle Morrison/ Brigid Nossal
Returning to the future: Using psychoanalytic processes to facilitate integrative responses to paradox within a global professional services firm.
This paper explores the use of a psychoanalytically informed leadership program to assist participants from a commercial professional services firm to integrate and embrace polarities and paradoxes as they inevitably surface in the current turbulent context. The program has been well received by 1700 participants over 4 years. Both its scale and its sustained success are testimony to the value of applied psychoanalytic methodology within a corporate setting. We believe this case study provides an interesting and useful precedent in furthering the development of applied psychoanalysis in organizations.
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Gabriela Barrial 
Polarities in Public Health: Containing the ‘unwanted’ in the emergency departments of the city of Buenos Aires.

This paper will present the results from a public-health consultancy project in 15 Emergency Departments (Guardia) in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The collected data provided a rich, multilayered view of the social and institutional dynamics regarding the role of Guardias in the Argentine social and political imaginary as a container of the ‘unwanted’ aspects of contemporary society.
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Ekaterina Belokoskova-Mikhaylova / Natalya Kochergina 
Billions: Polarities of money, power and feelings.

Ajeet Mathur 
Institutional Toxicity in Sticky Polarities: The intractable inter-generational residues of fragile identities in South Asia.

One of the most dangerous hotspots in the world is South Asia. Two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, have been unabatedly engaged in an intractable conflict for more than 70 years. In Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, internal strife around vengeance and leadership contestations recur with alarming regularity while unsettled residues from their civil wars linger. In Nepal, after a decade of armed insurgency, so many group identities have been legitimized as governance authorities that governance costs of implementing the world’s newest Constitution are yet to be resourced. The Rohingya refugee crisis of Myanmar expelling muslims, violence in India against beef-eaters by fanatics in the name of cow protection, and discrimination against women entering places of worship are poignant reminders of how politics of exclusion and hatred manifests against group identities. The central question of how institutional toxicity arises and evolves in sticky polarities and fuels intractable conflicts has much to do with how passions are unconsciously contained, released, transacted or transformed inter-generationally around polarities crystallised on the basis of religion, ethnicity, habitat, language, affluence, gender and culture. Being the other and engaging with otherness are both problematic. This paper explores the currents and cross-currents lurking beneath the surface of formalized political engagements through attention to unconscious resonances in our inner worlds. Further, it discusses how healing of group psyches may be attempted based on psychoanalytic insights about sticky polarities and accumulated toxicity in institutions.
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Peliwe Mnguni 
Nelson Mandela the Saint, Winnie Madikizela Mandela the Shrew: Can intersubjectivity help us transcend the polarities that are holding us captive?
In this paper, social defence theory is used to make sense of the polarised positions that Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela Mandela occupy in the collective South African psyche. Intersubjectivity is presented as a potential way out of polarities. Parallels between Winnie’s story, in particular, and the lived experiences of women leaders in contemporary South African organisations are suggested.
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Violetta Shatilova 
Can women have it all? Gender identifications and leadership.
Today women are entering organisations at many levels, companies boast their gender diversity programs and one can say that the situation is changing for better. Still, talking about gender diversity is often not more than about proportions of employees who have or don’t have penises, rather than allowing female discourse in the organisations. By presenting a real case from business, we look at a woman’s relationship with the larger systems that impact her gender identification. Taking Lacan’s sexuation formula and its distinction between a one-sided pursuit of consistency versus a multi-sided engagement with incompleteness (the former associated with ‘male’ and the latter with ‘female’ identifications), we would like to talk about en-gendering leadership (Boxer, 2018) and why the modern organisation will need more of this in their leadership.

Saturday 29 June


Kate Dempsey 
Sorry Business: A Kleinian perspective on apology and reparation.
In this paper, I look at the attempts to say “sorry” for past wrongs to the First Nations Peoples in Australia. I use the Kleinian idea of reparation, which can be a helpful concept in many polarised situations. Klein notes that the move to a depressive position comes first from the one who has done wrong, realising this truth, mourning loss and wanting to repair. But saying sorry and making reparation is harder than it seems.
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Thomas Hoffman
Wombmates: Identity and polarity in twins—lessons on how to manage for the rest of us.
This paper will explore the dynamics of twins and mechanisms of twinship in an effort to apply this model to a solution to more global problems of hate, contempt, and devaluation active in society today.
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Petros Oratis 
Polarization and the Breakdown of Lateral Collaboration: Where can containment and authorization be found in contemporary organizations?
This paper seeks to explore polarization in corporate organizations, by focusing particularly on the horizontal axis of collaboration, wherein unauthorized leadership is required to resolve complex problems. It uses a consultation case, where insufficient hierarchal authorization and containment, at times of crisis, led to polarization of two functional groups, as a means to provide a psychological refuge for role-holders to contain themselves. The paper seeks to further discuss the role of leadership in vertical and lateral relations, as organizational structures increasingly require a constant interplay between the two axis.
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Hannah Piterman 
Can we talk about gender in the post “metoo” world?: Polarisation, populism and paralysis?

In this paper I pursue the perennial issue of a lack of women in senior ranks in the Australian political and corporate spheres and explore the role of “MeToo” in redefining power relations between the sexes. I explore divisions that are dominating social discourse in the context of wider sociopolitical dynamics in Australia and beyond. I identify a confluence of forces that while tangential to the women’s cause are widening misunderstanding between the sexes and resulting in inertia with regard to women’s progress into leadership positions.
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Biljana Stefanovic 
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Ethical.
To be updated


Reka Czegledi-Brown 
Possibility of the Impossible: Exploring economic and social exclusion of foreign domestic workers in the context of mainstream banking.

To be updated

Seth Harkins/ Xiaohua Lu/ Jeffrey Roth/ Ms. Rui Lu/ Xumei Wang 

Group Relations in China: A cross-cultural study of organizational Development, 2014–2019 
This paper describes and analyzes the evolution of three group relations conferences in Beijing (2014, 2016, and 2018) and training events and conferences in 2016, 2017 and 2019 based on the BART theory and trust theory. The narrative will be presented as the voices of the director, administrator, consultant, cultural interpreter and a member transitioning to the consultant role.
Bio links:

Larry Hirschhorn/ Chatham Sullivan 
The Developmental Project: A case study of an advertising agency.
When an advertising agency considers changing the basic way it serves clients, it risks polarizing the agency between proponents and opponents of the change. Sub-culturing and the link between “the tower and the square” is a method for delimiting polarization. This case study describes this method and its results to date.
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Brian Melaugh/ Bernie McDonnell 
The Journey from Love to Hate: An object relations perspective on the decline of the Catholic Church in Ireland between the papal visits of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.
The purpose the paper is to explore the decline of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from an object relations perspective. In terms of a timeline, we explore the decline of the church between the papal visits of Pope John Paul 11 (1979) and Pope Francis (2018) characterised by the move of the church from the centre of Irish life to the margins and the emergence of a progressive moral politics. Linking to the theme of the conference ‘perspectives on polarities’, while for many the church evokes feelings from hatred to indifference, over 78% of the Irish population still identify as Roman Catholic. The paper will explore the unconscious dynamics of this ambivalence drawing on the theory of Winnicott (stage of dependence) Klein (paranoid –schizoid position) and Zinkin (malignant mirroring).
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Marina Mojovic 
Reflective Citizens Engaging with Psycho-social Polarities.
Coping with polarities, psycho-social and otherwise, in the Balkans has been a challenge. With the anti-totalitarian revolution in 2000 and further turbulences, a new methodology for citizens’ learning the art-of-listening and the art-of-dialogue has carefully been developed–the Serbian Reflective Citizens (RC) Methodology. Now the RC method has reached a more mature phase with ongoing branches in many towns of the ex-Yugoslav region and wider. RC is done voluntarily without charge and any interested citizen can create her/his RC-branch even in very modest circumstances. The last new branch was established in March in a Gym in Torino-Italy with over 70 participants and a long waiting list for the next event in September.
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Miranda Alcock 
Shining light into the shadow. 
Three Group Relations Conferences in Apartheid South Africa, designed as an intervention into Gender Dynamics in NGOs, Unions and Universities, were subsumed by urgent emotionally charged concerns about power and authority based on racial inequality. Based on the Harold Bridger model, these conferences illustrate how the sentient preoccupations of an organisation will overwhelm its stated task to attend to its unspoken and unmentionable fundamental concerns.
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Kenneth Eisold 
Money is Magic.

The history of money has tended to focus on the coins and other objects that have served in different cultures over the years as the media of exchange, and that has contributed to the common belief that money is actually a specific commodity that was designated at a fixed value, as a standard for purposes of exchange. Now, however, many historians and even economists seem to be coming around to the view that in a world in which money is being constantly created by banks and varied sovereign powers, we actually do not clearly understand what it is. That is, we rely on it, find it indispensable, virtually a form of air our economies breathe, but it eludes our understanding.
This underlying mysterious and elusive property of money, helps to support the common belief that that Wall Street has its “wizards” and “sages” who possess an understanding denied the rest of us, and who are therefore entitled to their disproportionate compensation and profit.
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Jack Marmorstein/ Jeff de Klein/ Simon Western 
Poles of Technology: The competing dynamics of monopoly and decentralization.

In today’s technological ecosystem, there’s a polar antagonism between, on the one hand, the forces of centralization, scaling and monopolization, and, on the other hand, fragmentation, local autonomy and mutual incompatibility. Understanding these poles—their economic, phenomenological and psychodynamic consequences—is essential to charting a path that prioritizes individuals over corporations; privacy over big data; and transparent value-exchange over profiteering from surveilled data. This panel will explore emerging alternatives to centralization, and the psychodynamics and experience of the current poles.
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Marcela Murarova 
Corporate Social Responsibility and Emotions from Fantasy to Reality: The case of banking industry. 
Banks are reacting slowly to environmental and human rights issues. We interpret this behavior as a defense through fantasy. Relating to realistic situations, we illustrate how emotions could reconnect banks to reality in the context of polarized views.
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Moritz Senarclens de Grancy/ Rebekka Haug 
Suicide and the Workplace: How psychoanalytic coaching and executive training can help. 

When in 2010 three Renault employees committed suicide in a short period of time, the working conditions in the engineering center of the car manufacturer came under the spotlight of the French authorities. They revealed that the men suffered from increased pressure in the workplace in the wake of a reorganization program. Also in 2010, a series of mysterious deaths brought the Taiwanese Apple supplier Foxconn into disrepute. But even at the management level, suicides are a regular occurrence. Shortly after the suicide of the former Swisscom boss, Carsten Schloter, in 2013, the chief financial officer of a Zurich insurance company, Pierre Wauthier, killed himself. In a farewell letter, the Frenchman Wauthier wrote of pressure from the comany’s board of directors. In early 2014, former German bank manager William Broeksmit hanged himself in his apartment in London. The list of manager suicides is endless and treated as a taboo issue. A lot depends on the working atmosphere in companies, however, suicide is always the endpoint of a bunch of events. Suicides can also trigger further suicides. In fact, suicide is in some ways contagious. What can a company do if confronted with suicide? In our presentation, we convey the contents of our management training “Suicide and the Workplace: How psychoanalytic coaching can help”. We talk about suicidality, suicide and suicide prevention, and discuss the emotional side of suicide, such as hopelessness, feelings of powerlessness, self-aggression and other affective states. Coaching by psychoanalytically trained coaches makes it possible to treat serious existential crises. We illustrate this with relevant psychoanalytic approaches and offer further thinking from Lacanian psychoanalysis: Freud’s thesis of a death drive in the context of the repetition phenomen, the passage-à-l’acte and the social band. We show practical ways of crisis intervention, affect-compensation and techniques such as containing and metaphorization for use in organizations. Special aspects, like suicide among older workers are discussed. Legal aspects are also taken up.

Sunday 30 June


Nick Bartlett
“Translation as Dangerous Work”: Exploring movement between languages and group unconscious dynamics in a China-based group relations conference. 
This paper builds on experiences at a group relations conference in Beijing last year where organizers deliberately decided not to pre-authorize translators in a dual language Chinese-English event. My paper explores the specific language ideology behind this decision and examines encounters where translation became a site of conflict during the five day conference. I offer initial thoughts on how the “dangerous work” of moving between languages in this space in the People’s Republic might relate to broader conversations about translation, power and history in psychoanalysis and anthropology.
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Victoria Grady/ James Grady/ Gry Osnes
The Application of Modern Attachment Theory as a Valuable Tool to Support the Transition of Change Resistance into a Competitive Edge
In this paper we examine the qualities that have emerged out of the application of modern Attachment Theory as a valuable tool to support the transition of change resistance into competitive edge. The analysis focuses on the nature of attachment behavior, how and why loss occurs, and the importance of honoring the loss of these attachments. We suggest completion of the mourning process may lead to the renewal or reorientation of the business in a more constructive and productive direction—ultimately enhancing the organization’s strategic capacity. The research data included is based on in-depth cross-cultural analysis with case study data representing China, Tanzania, USA, and Sweden.

Instagram: attach2change
Follow us on Twitter: @pivotpnt
LinkedIn: Victoria M Grady
LinkedIn: James D Grady 

Heidi Rose/ Steen Visholm: 
Development through Polarization and Integration: A presentation of a model and an organization for providing training and organizational development for milieu-therapeutic organizations.
SEDAC is an organization that, since 1999, provides ongoing training and organizational development for milieu-therapeutic organizations that work with children and young people with serious difficulties. Each of the organizations has between 7 and 23 clients in treatment between 1 to 5 years and between 8 and 18 employees. We will present the way SEDAC is organized, the principles SEDAC is built on, and reflections concerning our experiences over the years.
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Peter Szabo  
Recovering Human Inheritance in Organizations and Society: An exploration of David Armstrong’s “Ethical Imagination”.
This paper will explore and attempt to expand upon David Armstrong’s idea of the ethical imagination in psychodynamically informed consultation and systems thinking. In part, Armstrong challenged our field to open up its perspective on the dilemmas it seeks to tackle and to “rediscover and re-own the active voice” so as to help people, institutions, and even society at large, to develop more humanely and productively. The concept will be explored by revisiting some of the seminal cases Armstrong refers to in his paper and by reflecting upon two cases from the author’s own work. The paper will close with some ideas on how the field might apply the ethical imagination to broader societal dilemmas.

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