The idea of social defenses against paranoid and depressive anxiety has grown from a working hypothesis put forward by Jaques in 1955 into a theory of social defenses against the distressing and unbearable emotions aroused by organizational tasks and dynamics. Jaques reneged on his early ideas, dismissing psychodynamic causes and embracing structural explanations. But the application of social defense theory beyond micro‐systems to broader systems dynamics has meant that psychodynamic and structural ideas of system and role have now become more integrated. Organizations contain many systems: task, political, social, technical. The community system level of organization is explored. When not consciously recognized as a system, people are unable to actively take up roles as citizens of the organization. Lack of recognition or assertion of such roles leaves subjectivity under threat. This is yet another source of social defenses. These ideas are explored through reference to inter‐subjective theory. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2006