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Module details

PA211-6-PS: Organisational Dynamics - Theory

Year: 2014/15
Department: Psychoanalytic Studies
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to year(s) of study:
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Comments: Students taking this module as a stand alone or outside option are advised that some prior familiarity with psychodynamic thinking will be helpful. The module supervisor will be able to recommend appropriate preparatory reading. Recommended preparatory reading: The Unconscious at Work by Obholzer, and or Hinshelwood Observing Organisations. Isca Wittenberg for background re. psychodynamic thinking in general.

Supervisor: Dr Chris Nicholson  
Teaching Staff: Dr Chris Nicholson  
Contact details: Student Administrator, 4SB.6.2, telephone extension 4969, email cpsugrad (Non essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create the full email address) 

Module is taught during the following terms

Module Description

Aims: This module aims at helping students understand more fully the conscious and unconscious dynamics in organisations

Learning outcomes: By the end of the module students should have

Developed a greater capacity for psychodynamic observation

Have a deeper understanding of organisational dynamics

Be able to apply psychodynamic insight to a wide range of settings

Learning and Teaching Methods

Students will discuss readings on topics relating to organisational dynamics.


100 per cent Coursework Mark

2 x 2500 word essays

Exam Duration and Period


  • 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 to 43.
  • Bion W.R. (1989) Group Dynamics: A Review, in Klein, M. et al. New Directions in
  • Psychoanalysis. London. Tavistock.
  • Britton, R. 'Re-enactment as an unwitting professional response to family dynamics' in Box.S. et al (eds) Psychotherapy with Families: An Analytic Approach London: Routledge
  • Byng-Hall, J. (1986) 'Family Scripts' Journal of Child Psychotherapy vol. 12 no.1
  • De Board, R. Human Behaviour and General Systems Theory in The Psychoanalysis of Organizations London: Routledge 1978
  • Emanuel, L. (2002) 'Deprivation x 3: The contribution of organisational 'triple deprivation' of looked-after children' Journal of Child Psychotherapy vol 28 no.2 pp. 163-179
  • 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.
  • Grint, K. (2005) Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of leadership: Human Relations Journal Vol 58 (11): 1467 to 1494 Tavistock Institute: SAGE publications
  • Hinshelwood RD (1997) Attacks on the Reflective Space, in Pines M and Schermer VL (eds) Ring of Fire, Primitive Affects, Object Relations in Group Psychotherapy London: Routledge
  • Hirschhorn L (1990) Work and Reparation in The Workplace Within: Psychodynamics of Organisational Life. London. MIT Press pp. 1-42
  • Klein M (1946) Notes on some Schizoid Mechanisms in Envy and Gratitude and
  • Other Works London: Hogarth and the Institute of Psychoanalysis
  • Kraemer, S. (1998) 'Splitting and Stupidity in Child Sexual Abuse' Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy vol.3 no.3
  • Livingstone, S. (1999) A systemic approach in a primary school' in Decker et al (eds.) Taking Children Seriously: Applications of Counselling and Therapy in Education London: Cassell
  • Mason B. Handing Over(1991) London: Karnac Books
  • Maxwell, D. Nowhere to hide: a day case centre, in Hinshelwood, RD and Skogstad, Wilhelm (eds), Observing Organisations: Anxiety, Defence and Culture in Health Care London: Routledge
  • Menzies Lyth, I (1959) The functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety: a report on a study of the nursing service of a general hospital, in Containing Anxiety in Institutions: Selected Essays London: Free Association Books
  • Menzies Lyth, Isabel (1988) Reflections on my work: Interview with Ann Scott and Bob Young. In Containing Anxiety in Institutions. London: Free Association Press pp. 1-42
  • Richardson, C. The Contribution of Systemic Thinking and Practice in Therapeutic Communities for Children and Young People
  • Rioch, M 'The Work of Wilfred Bion on Groups' in Group Relations Reader 1: pp 21 to 35
  • Roberts, V. The Organisation of work: contributions from open systems theory in Obholzer, A and V Roberts (eds) The Unconscious at Work London: Routledge
  • Roberts, V.Z. (1999) Isolation, Autonomy, and Interdependence in Organizational Life. Ch. 15 in French, R. & Vince, R (eds) Group Relations, Management, and Organization: Oxford: OUP
  • Simpson, R. & French, R. (2005) Thoughtful Leadership: Lessons from Bion: Organisational and Social Dynamics 5 (2): 280 to 297 London: Karnac
  • Stacey, R. (1997) Excitement and Tension at the Edge of Chaos in E. Smith (ed) Integrity and Change, Mental Health in the Marketplace London: Routledge
  • Stokes, J. (1994) What is unconscious in organisations? in Casemore, R. et al What makes consultancy work? London. South Bank University Press.
  • Van Buskirk W., & McGrath D. (1999) Organizational Cultures as Holding Environments: A Psychodynamic Look at Organizational Symbolism in Human Relations Journal Vol. 52, No. 6 1999

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Mr Steven Walker
  • Institution: NONE OR NOT KNOWN
  • Academic Role: n/a

Should you have any queries about the Module Directory pages, please contact the Course Record Team, Systems Administration Office, Academic Section; email: crt (non Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk)