How to form a psychoanalytic temporary learning organization?

The knowledge society requires individuals and organizations (leaders, companies, teams) that are able to adopt innovation and that are open to develop themselves further. However, this may lead to conflicts with the identity needs of individuals and organizations once innovations challenge existing self- or group-concepts. In result, this may create defenses against new things, otherness, and innovation that lead to dysfunctional structures.


Using both the the concept RSI and the concept of phantasm as a defense mechanism against anxieties by J. Lacan, the longterm project investigates how fantasies restrict individuals and groups in creating possibilities of identification focused on the imaginary and subsequently to produce forms of expression for a controlled enjoyment. On the other hand, it is important to clarify how forms of co-operation and the distribution of influence and power can succeed under ethical and future-relevant aspects in order to strengthen the learning ability of groups.

Suicide and the Workplace

Presentation at the ISPSO's Annual Meeting 2019 in New York


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.