Esprit de corps, Work transference and dissolution: Lacan as an organizational theorist

Compared to the major impact Jacques Lacan’s theory of psychoanalysis has had on the widest range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, and in the social sciences, its reception in organizational studies has been relatively slow. This is often explained with reference to the fact that Lacan’s writings are difficult, and that he himself was never concerned with the study of organizations. In this paper, it is demonstrated that Lacan did have a profound interest in organizational life, and that it prompted him to formulate a number of key principles for establishing an “alternative” organizational structure, in which hierarchical authority is balanced against a communal, libertarian and solidaristic system of exchange. It is shown how these principles are indebted to Bion’s work with leaderless groups, and to Bion’s “first Northfield experiment” from the early 1940s. During the 1960s Lacan endeavoured to integrate these ideas in what he designated as a “circular organization”, which would operate on the basis of a series of small working groups called cartels, and on positions of “suspended authority”. It is also argued that Lacan’s eventual dissolution of his own School may not have constituted a simple case of organizational failure, but a necessary act of transformational change and permutation. The essay concludes with the proposition that a proper appreciation of Lacan’s significance for organizational studies should start with a critical analysis of his own contributions to the study of organizational life.

The Future of an Illusion: Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis

Starting from Sellars’ distinction between the manifest and scientific portrayals of man, we will develop three different philosophical readings of the possible consequences of this opposition with regard to the question of subjectivity: Dennett’s philosophical reconstruction of neuro-cognitive science; Husserlian phenomenology; and, Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis. Particular attention will be paid to the various ideas about the rights and limits of the first-person perspective and the issue of truth and fiction.

The Function of the Gaze and the Mother-Child Relationship in the Subjectification of a Physically Disabled Child

Physically disabled children suffer from the gaze of the people they meet and with whom they interact. They are confronted with their difference and are obliged to take up a position against this confrontation. First, through a review of relevant literature the author characterizes the gaze in the relation between a physically disabled child and the Other. The child’s identity is shaped through what is offered by others. At birth a child is positioned in the family, at the point where parental expectations meet reality and the child’s disability evokes in the parents feelings of guilt and shame. The author asserts that the mother’s gaze reduces the child to their disability. To understand this, the gaze is described as objet a (Lacan, 1973 [1964]). Then, the author explores the physically disabled child’s response to the Other’s gaze. Two possible responses are considered: the child may choose to adopt a seemingly passive position, whereby he undergoes the interaction; on the other hand, the child may explicitly expose him or herself to the Other, perhaps even exaggerating their dysfunction. The author concludes that speaking about the disability can help the child to find the words to talk about their own dysfunction and to take up a bearable position in response to their disability.

On Racism from a Psychoanalytic Point of View

This paper focuses on Freud’s interpretation of racism and xenophobia as described in his essay “A Comment on Anti-Semitism” and in his “Letter to the Editor of Time and Tide“. The psychobiographical method Jean-Louis Maisonneuve uses in his work L’extrême droite sur le divan is also critiqued. An alternative starting point for a psychoanalytic interpretation of racism and xenophobia is found in the works of Tahar Ben Jelloun and Gerard Miller, in which racist language and sexual fantasies projected onto immigrants are analysed.

Trauma beyond the Biomedical Paradigm: Avenues for a Subject-oriented and Contextual Trauma Approach

This article provides a succinct overview of the structure and key findings of a psychoanalytically inspired theoretical doctoral thesis on psychological trauma. Starting from four core criticisms directed at the hegemonic, biomedical PTSD-model of trauma, the author makes use of the works of Jacques Lacan, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek (amongst others) to develop a trauma framework that counters the current tendency to (1) conceptualise traumatic etiology in a mechanistic fashion, (2) to individualize, (3) decontextualize and (4) depoliticize trauma. One clear conclusion is that (the success of) the PTSD-model of trauma is dependent on an implicit yet well-defined ethical position, mirroring the prevailing ethical stance in the West – beyond any strictly scientific claims. The author argues that the pitfalls of this model can be avoided by acknowledging the dimension of the Real and incorporating the notion of the act in our understanding of trauma and its treatment.