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General News    H4'ed 7/28/18

Totalitarian States of Mind in Organizations - Recovery of Humanity

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Directly relevant to Lawrence's conclusions are observations offered by Daniel Goleman (1985) in his book Vital Lies, Simple Truths. Whether we look at an authoritarian culture in an organization (usually a microcosm of larger structures), or at an entire society which exhibits totalitarian (and possibly fascistic) trends, the identical principles seem to apply.

In an organizational context one of the paradoxical results of this "social defense" against anxiety is a heightening of group anxiety, simply because there is no space in which these emotions can be absorbed, tolerated and worked through. Lawrence asserts that to the degree that independent thinking and a free exchange of ideas are removed from the institution, the "thinkers" and "feelers" begin to be perceived as people who need to be "expunged, wiped out, erased."

Hence, in institutions where a totalitarian state-of-mind is predominant, any economic cuts are prioritized toward reduction of services related to these functions, such as human resource management and education.

In such a climate it is quite common for management to become trapped by the idea that they can survive by utilizing a quick, painless intervention.

Lawrence calls this "the politics of salvation."

Lawrence notes that although the latest "magical new idea promising a 'millenarian' future'" is often sought after and embraced by the powers-that-be, it is highly unlikely that the new idea will be grounded in an honest, searching appreciation of the situation.

And, [not being the fruit of] "thinking of a lateral or divergent kind, [this very solution will tend to] have a built-in capacity for producing another crisis that will have to be solved using yet another [salvational approach]."

Finally, Lawrence brings to our attention one more reality. Once an organizational climate (through its leadership) is dominated by avoidant behavior, predictable consequences follow. The admission of uncertainty, anxiety, complexity, and empathy are - for all practical purposes - banned from consciousness and/or expression, resulting in a "skewing" of thought, emotions, and behavior.

Lawrence, from a psychoanalytic framework, terms this "the paranoid/schizoid position," and cites the well-worn analytic insight which teaches that one of the outcomes of residing in this "psychic position" is the splitting of objects in the environment into "good vs. bad:

"The idealized object - in this case the leader - is made good and is kept far apart from the bad, persecutory ones. One can see this

in institutions which construe the external environment as bad (and persecuting) and so the unconscious wish is to create a safe, good, internal environment in the enterprise.

Within the institution there will be a further splitting and hatred which will be projected into, for example, women, people of other races, and any person who might be expected to hold [a divergent position] "

When a paranoid-schizoid culture, so to speak, permeates an institution the personnel feel sanctioned to regard all competition as enemies who should be 'killed off'. Irrespective of whether [such a] campaign [is] consciously sanctioned or not - it [is certainly] sanctioned unconsciously" (Lawrence, 1995).

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Blair Gelbond Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I work as a psychotherapist with an emphasis on transformational learning - a blend of psychoanalytic and transpersonal approaches, and am the author of Self Actualization and Unselfish Love and co-author of Families Helping Families: (more...)

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