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What Happens When Psychoanalysis Goes to Work? A Way of Thinking about Life in Organizations

April 7, 2018 @ 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

What Happens When Psychoanalysis Goes to Work?
A Way of Thinking about Life in Organizations

A discussion group led by
M. Gerard Fromm, Ph.D.
Saturday April 7, 2018 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Open to WMAAPP members and guests. (Members wishing to bring guests are asked to call  Patricia Everett in advance, (413) 256-3539.) There is no fee.

“No other technique for the conduct of life attaches the individual so firmly to reality as laying emphasis on work; for his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community.” So says Freud in Civilization and its Discontents (21, p. 80, 1929). And, of course, we are all familiar with Freud’s sentiment about love and work. But, while Freud did indeed go on to develop a theory and treatment about troubled love life, he left a theory and treatment about troubled work life to others: most notably Wilfred Bion.
In this presentation, Dr. Fromm will sketch out a framework for understanding individual experience as it both shapes and is shaped by working with others. This emphasis on the meaning of a person’s experience within an organization opens up the possibility that loving and working need not be so separate. As the Stockbridge theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr once put it, “Nothing worth doing can be accomplished alone; therefore “we are saved by love,” — love, in this case, meaning a deeper joining with others in the service of a meaningful task.
The presentation will sketch out a set of concepts that help us think about work life and illustrate those with excerpts from organizational consultations, one focusing on a mental health center and one on a college counseling service. Study Group members are invited to share organizational experiences they might be grappling with as well.

Gerard Fromm, Ph.D., is a long-time WMAAPP member. He was the first Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute at Austen Riggs from 2002-2013, and directed the Therapeutic Community Program there for many years. Currently, he is a Distinguished Faculty member of the Erikson Institute and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Fromm has taught at, and consulted to, a number of psychoanalytic institutes across the country.
Dr. Fromm is also the President of the International Dialogue Initiative, an interdisciplinary group that studies the psychodynamics of societal conflict, and a past President of both the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems in Boston. He has directed or served on the staff of Group Relations Conferences in the United States,
Canada, Europe and Israel. Currently Dr. Fromm is an organizational consultant to mental health and other institutions.
Dr. Fromm has presented and published widely, including
Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations; Taking the Transference, Reaching toward Dreams: Clinical Studies in the Intermediate Area; and A Spirit That Impels: Play, Creativity and Psychoanalysis.

Armstrong, David (1997). The “institution in the mind”: Reflections on the relation of psycho-analysis to work with institutions. Free Associations, 17, 1-14.

Bion, Wilfred (1961). Experiences in Groups, New York: Basic Books.

Fromm, M.G. (2009). Potential space and maternal authority. Organisational and Social Dynamics. 9(2): 189-205. Menzies, Isabel (1960). A case study in the functioning of
social systems as a defence against anxiety. Human
Relations, 13, 95-121.

Obholzer, Anton and Roberts, Vega (1994). The Unconscious
at Work, London and New York: Routledge.

Shapiro, Edward and Carr, Wesley (1991). Lost in Familiar
Places, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

1. To identify Bion’s seminal observations on groups and situate them in a historical perspective.
2. To identify core concepts of a systems psychodynamic orientation and how they can be used to understand organizational life.
3. To identify methods for intervention in a troubled system.
4. To apply those concepts and interventions to critical junctures in the evolution of two organizations: a mental health center and a college counseling center.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a clinical social worker
and would like CE credits for this program, please let us know in advance, by emailing or calling Patricia Everett, or (413) 256-3539.
2.0 CE credits are available to psychologists, psychoanalysts, and social workers upon complete attendance of this intermediate level event. 2.0 CEUs are offered to LMHCs.

Schacht Center for Health and Wellness Smith College
21 Belmont Avenue
Northampton, MA
Parking is available right next to the building (Lot W). Enter by front door on the west side of the building. The classroom is on the second floor. Steps or the elevator are to the right as you enter the building.
A map of the Smith College campus is included here.
This study group is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts and Albany Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology, a local chapter of Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association.
Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education credits for psychologists. Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Confidentiality and WMAAPP Policy
In order to protect the confidentiality of the clinical material, and to adhere to APA ethical guidelines, it is required that those attending the program be either currently licensed mental health professionals, psychoanalysts, or currently matriculated students in mental health programs (psychology, social work, psychiatry, psychoanalysis). Students are required to provide the name of their program. There will be no exceptions.
Division 39 is committed to accessibility and nondiscrimination in its continuing education activities.
Division 39 is also committed to conducting all activities In conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during the discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them.
Please address questions, concerns or complaints to: Moi Wurgaft, Ph.D., LMHC at 413-230-7027.



April 7, 2018
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Event Categories:


Tricia Everett


Schacht Center for Health and Wellness Smith College
21 Belmont Avenue
Northampton, MA 01060 United States
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