Module Details

PA927-7-AU-CO: Psychoanalysis Of Groups And Organisations

Year: 2017/18
Department: Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Mr Chris Tanner
Teaching Staff: Mr Simon Tucker, Mr Chris Tanner, Abi Concannon
Contact details: Senior Student Administrator, Tel: 01206 873745, email cpsgrad (Non Essex users should add to create full email address)

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module provides an introduction to exploring how a psychoanalytic approach can illuminate the dynamics of groups and organisations.

The starting point, as with all psychoanalytic thought, is the unconscious- what it is, and how it influences the behaviour of groups. Following an examination of some of the classic contributions of Freud and Bion, the module progresses to develop a number of perspectives on how psychoanalytic ideas can inform an understanding of firstly, how the individual takes up a role in groups and organisations, and , secondly, how such roles are shaped by dynamic processes in groups and organisations

This includes the role of the group or organisation as a holding environment to meet, or frustrate our dependency needs; the interplay of systems thinking and psychoanalysis; the way we use group and organisational structure to defend against anxiety; the way we internalise images of the group/organisation; how authority and power is located in the group or organisation; the impact of narcissism and oedipal dynamics on leadership and followership; and finally a consideration of the dynamics of change in groups/organisations.

Learning and Teaching Methods


100 per cent Coursework Mark


Students learning will be assessed by a 3000 word essay, based on a list of topics to be supplied. Students may choose their own topic, but it must be approved in writing by the module co-ordinator


  • Freud S (1921) Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, The Standard Edition
  • of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (SE), vol. 18, chapters II, III and V
  • Bion W.R. (1989) 'Group Dynamics: A Review', in Klein, M. et al. New Directions in
  • Psychoanalysis. London. Tavistock
  • Armstrong, D. (2005) 'The 'organization-in-the-mind': reflections on the relation of
  • psychoanalysis to work with institutions'. In Organization in the Mind:
  • Psychoanalysis, Group Relations and Organizational Consultancy. London:
  • Karnac; pp. 29-43.
  • Additional Reading:
  • Armstrong, D. (2005) 'Emotions in Organisations' in "Organization in the Mind:
  • Psychoanalysis, Group Relations and Organizational Consultancy". London:
  • Karnac; pp. 90-110
  • Menzies, Isabel (1988) 'Reflections on my work: Interview with Ann Scott and Bob
  • Young'. In Containing Anxiety in Institutions. London: Free Associations; pp. 1-42.

Further information