_*_Radical Psychology_*_

Summer 1999, Vol. 1, Issue 1.

On "Reading" Emotions and Emotionality in Organisations [1]

Adrian Carr

Emotionality: n. a characteristic of a person who reacts easily and strongly to emotive situations... (the) term should not imply a generalized trait of emotional sensitivity. (English & English 1958, p. 177)


The discourse of organisation theory and management is one that carries a heavy emphasis upon the cognitive domain - describing what goes on in organisations in fairly bland terms and, in that sense, de-emotionalising or presenting a sanitised and biased understanding of what transpires and gets played out in organisations. "Rationality", often portrayed with "efficiency", is the sensible and "good guy" that is to be used as the touchstone by managers and administrators in organisations. This discourse is one where, in the shadows, there "lurks" a perceived alternative or dichotomous "bad guy" called "emotion" or "emotionality". Emotion and emotionality is portrayed, or more commonly inferred, as having to be avoided or excluded. Of course the quintessential organisational form designed to install rationality and eliminate emotionality is our most pervasive organisational form - bureaucracy. However, this putative dichotomous choice that is on offer presents us with a simplified understanding of what will be shown, in this paper, to be a rich inter-relationship where the "rational" and "emotional" are often "fused" or act in a co-existent and co-dependent fashion where one cannot be understood in the absence of the other.

The neglected thorough examination of the relationship of the rational and emotional is one that has been previously noted as an oversight that is understandable in the context that, in general, the field of organisation behaviour has been somewhat preoccupied with the functionalist quest for a predictable and controllable generic "man" (see Carr, 1989). The interactive nature and processes by which an individual becomes an individual have largely gone unexamined. Indeed, the ontological status of "individual", "group" and "organisation" appears to have been obscured by the ideology of functionalism. Interpretative and interactional perspectives have largely been neglected by this myopia and with it an understanding of how and why different forms of involvement occur in work organisations. The organisation behaviour discourse has generally viewed forms of involvement as an outcome of a process of exchange between the organisation and the individual. Perhaps the most enduring image, is that captured by Schein (1970) in his notion of the "psychological contract".

For Schein the psychological contract involved reciprocation (contribution - inducement) where the employee and employer became engaged in an interactive process of mutual influence and bargaining (see Schein, 1970; also Goddard, 1984; Kotter, 1973; Rousseau, 1987; Schermerhorn et al, 1988; Sims, 1991; Wahn, 1993). Schein embraced the work of Etzioni (1961; 1964) to suggest that the form of employee involvement was a natural outcome of the rewards and kinds of authority used in an organisation. Although many may be very familiar with Etzioni's compliance typology, they may be less familiar with how Schein came to rely upon it in putting forward the notion of the psychological contract.

Etzioni (1961; 1964) suggested that the type of involvement displayed by an employee was closely related to the form of power and authority used in the organisation. Power and authority that an organisation might use could be of three types: coercive e.g., threat, physical sanctions, etc; utilitarian e.g., material and economic rewards; or, normative e.g., symbolic rewards and intrinsic value rewards. The range of involvement that an employee may exhibit, Etzioni classified as being one of three possible types: alienative; calculative; or, moral. By taking the three types of power and the three types of involvement, Etzioni produced the now familiar typology with nine possible relationships. While all nine were possible, Etzioni argued that three types of power and involvement were congruent: coercive-alienative; utilitarian-calculative; and, normative-moral. He argued that these congruent types were the most effective relationships and that the non-congruent relationships would place an organisation under a natural strain towards congruence (Etzioni, 1961: 87).

The structural-functionalist vision provided by Etzioni was incorporated by Schein in his explanation of the psychological contract. Schein argued that the three congruent types constituted "workable and "just" psychological contracts" (1970, p. 53). While this Schein-Etzioni vision is highly descriptive, what goes unexplained is why such congruency occurs? An explanation of the psychological underpinning of the typology is conspicuous by its absence. Are we to presume that this is a natural order of things and leave it at that? Schein's notion of the psychological contract is devoid of any dynamic causal mechanism other than as a mutually bargained outcome. The issues of "fairness" and "choice" that are seen as implied in establishing the psychological contract are only addressed as conscious phenomenon, and the degree of "mutualness" of the contract goes largely unexamined and with it considerations of any ethical dimension of the relationship. The heavy emphasis in this image of why employees may "seek to please" is one that assumes a high degree of rationality and mutual awareness of the parties involved. In contrast, this paper suggests that there is a "passion to please" that stems from a far more complex appreciation of the psychodynamics involved than has been generally advanced in the discourse thus far -- psychodynamics, as indicated earlier, where the "rational" and "emotional" are often "fused" or act in a co-existent and co-dependent fashion where one cannot be understood in the absence of the other.

The Psychodynamics of the "Passion" to Please

Sigmund Freud, in his attempt to provide an insight into how an individual "gained" his/her identity, suggested the psychodynamics of narcissism, identification and the ego-ideal were intertwined and indeed have "emotional content". Linking these issues, at one point he introduces a chapter with the observation that "Identification is known to psychoanalysis as the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person. It plays a part in the early history of the Oedipus complex" (Freud, 1921/1985, p. 134, italics added). It is in the understanding of these intertwined psychodynamics that we start to gain a greater appreciation of how the passion to please arises. To somewhat "unpack" the intertwined nature of these psychodynamics, it is probably most helpful to commence our discussion by first considering the matter of narcissism.

Initially, Freud's use of the term narcissism was by way of a footnote added to an essay some five years after the essay had been written. That essay was entitled "The Sexual Aberrations" (Freud, 1905/1977). Later he was to acknowledge (1914/1984, p. 65) that this footnote employed the term narcissism in the same way that Paul Nacke had used it in 1899, to refer to "sexual perversion". Freud was attempting to explain the object-choice of homosexuals.

The use of the term narcissism as a label for a type of personality disorder or aberrant behaviour was soon revised by Freud. This revision, hailed by some as one of Freud's "most magnificent discoveries" (Adorno, 1968, p. 88), was not well understood by many who followed him, including such people as Erich Fromm (1979/1982) and Bruno Bettelheim (1983/1989). Adorno actually argued that "psychoanalytic theory has still not proved equal" to Freud's discovery (Adorno, 1968, p. 88). More recently, Darius Ornston has charged Bettelheim (correctly in my view) with ignoring Freud's "careful description of narcissism as ubiquitous and necessary to loving" (Ornston, 1992, p. 73). Indeed, the term "narcissism" is commonly used today to refer to an individual who is overly preoccupied with themselves or their own interests. In its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1987) The American Psychiatric Association uses the term to describe a pathological condition: a personality disorder where an individual has an excessive concern for power and control that may lead to exploitative behaviour. On a larger scale the term has been employed in a negative sense, and in a sense of ill-health, to denounce what is seen as a collective pathology for a whole society (e.g., see Lasch, 1974; 1985). The view of narcissism as a disorder and pathology is, of course, derived from an aspect of the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso's (43 BC - AD 17) tale about Narcissus, a youthful son of a nymph, who falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water: "unwittingly, he desired himself, and was himself the object of his own approval" (Ovid, trans. 1955, p. 85).

In a paper entitled On Narcissism . . . (1914/1984) Freud revised his initial view of narcissism, noting that erotic self-centeredness was not confined to homosexuals but appeared to be part of a more general and normal process of psychosexual development. It was not, he wrote, "a perversion but the libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of self-preservation, a measure of which may justifiably be attributed to every creature" (Freud, 1914/1984, p. 66). Under this revision Freud argued that before and soon after birth the individual's wishes, desires and drives (libido) are principally focused upon the development of self, the ego-libido, with self as an initial erotic object. Subsequently, the individual may gain libido satisfaction through an attachment to objects, e.g., the mother's breast, in what Freud called object-libido. Later the individual may find these objects are not always available and may create substitute satisfactions, e.g., replacing the nipple with sucking a finger.

The actual relationship between ego-libido and object-libido Freud viewed as being amoeba-like in its operation (see Freud, 1914/1984, p. 68; 1917/1973, pp. 465-466; 1923a/1986, p. 155; 1923b/1984, pp. 404-406). Freud suggested that "the ego is to be regarded as a great reservoir of libido from which libido is sent out to objects and which is always ready to absorb libido flowing back from objects" (Freud, 1923a/1986, p. 155). This absorbing or taking back of libido into the ego from external objects Freud called secondary narcissism. This was to distinguish it from primary narcissism, a term he used for the first narcissism where the child took itself as its love-object rather than external objects.

The significance of the "seesaw-like" arrangement between the ego-libido and the object-libido is that the more one is used the more the other is depleted, and, as Alford observes:

"... the amoeba model makes clear there is a cost involved (in abandoning one's primary narcissism): in object love the self is depleted of libido, and there is a necessary decrease in narcissistic satisfaction. While being loved in return may provide considerable narcissistic gratification, it is not sufficient to compensate for the loss. It is in this context that Freud introduces the concept of the ego ideal" (Alford, 1988, p. 25).

In introducing the concept of the ego-ideal, Freud initially argued that the individual "is not willing to forgo the narcissistic perfection of his childhood (and) ... seeks to recover it in the new form of an ego ideal. What he projects before him as his ideal is the substitute for the lost narcissism of his childhood in which he was his own ideal" (Freud, 1914/1984, p. 88). The ego-ideal, Freud suggested, is established through three different forms of identification:

"First, identification... in the original form of (an) emotional tie with an object; second, in a regressive way... (as) a substitute for a libidinal object-tie, as it were by means of introjection of the object into the ego; and thirdly... (as) a new perception of a common quality shared with some other person who is not an object of the sexual instinct" (Freud, 1921/1985, p. 137).

Laplanche and Pontalis (1988) captured the essence and importance of the notion of identification when they defined it as a "psychological process whereby the subject assimilates an aspect, property or attribute of the other and is transformed, wholly or partially, after the model the other provides. It is by means of a series of identifications that the personality is constituted and specified" (Laplanche and Pontalis, 1988, p. 205 - italics added). Also, as noted in the quotation from Freud used in the first paragraph of this section of the paper, identification is associated with emotional content.

In developing his second theory of the "mind", Freud posited the now familiar realms of id, ego, and super-ego. In so doing he was forced to reconsider some of his previous ideas. Badcock aptly captured and summarised some fundamental revisions that were a consequence of this second theory:

"Finally, the ego was faced with demands originating in the so called superego, a specialized subdivision of itself which was based on identification and internalization of the more competent, dominant egos which the child found around itself. In the main, the superego took on its definitive form with the resolution of the Oedipus complex, involving an identification of the child with the values and ideals of the parents. Consequently, the superego provided a sense of moral and aesthetic self-judgement (conscience and values, in other words), both in a positive sense as acting as an ego-ideal and in the negative one in performing the role of censor of the ego's wishes... Failure to meet the demands of the superego created a feeling of moral anxiety" (Badcock, 1988, p. 122 - original emphasis). [2]

The concept of the ego-ideal, as established and re-established through various identifications, was retained, including the narcissistic underpinning and the idea that narcissism is, as Alford noted:

"never overcome, but rechanneled, because it represents an especially complete and profound mode of gratification, and man is loath to abandon a pleasure once experienced. If the ego ideal is immature . . . , this rechanneling will be ineffective and will lead to perversion: the quest for immediate gratification regardless of the appropriateness of the setting or the object. If the ego level is mature, on the other hand, narcissism may serve as a stimulus for the achievement of the highest ideals. For in striving to realize socially valued ideals, the ego moves closer to becoming one with its own ego ideal, thereby recapturing something of the perfection that the individual knew when he was the source and object of all the good in the world" (Alford, 1988, p. 27).

Writers such as Kohut (1971 and 1977) and Alford (1988) have embraced the concept of narcissism, like any other trait, as a part of the human condition that is neither sick nor healthy, but has exaggerated forms, or the potential for a Janus-like nature. Where I stray from their interpretation is really a matter of difference in emphasis, which, I suspect, stems from Strachey's unfortunate rendering of the German word Anlehnung as anaclisis. Anaclisis was used as an adjective to convey the idea of "to rest upon" or "to lean on" whereas the word Anlehnung "is the simple German word for dependence" (Mahony, 1992, p. 31, for a similar argument see Laplanche and Pontalis, 1988, p. 29-31). It is therefore my contention, that it is through identification that narcissism is transformed into a "dependence", not necessarily centered upon self, but an ego-ideal, satisfaction of which may come from alternative objects.

Erik Erikson suggested that "linguistically as well as psychologically, identity and identification have common roots" (Erikson, 1959, p. 112). Identity can be understood in terms of "fluctuations of projective and introjective identifications . . . (in which) the latter must be predominant" (Bassols et al, 1985, p. 173, see also Erikson, 1959, p. 113). That is, the individual absorbs, largely unknowingly, aspects of their external world, and seeks to integrate these aspects with previous identifications and self/mutual recognition experiences (see von Broembsen, 1989). These dynamics extend beyond involving the ego, and include an appreciation of introjective identification in the realm of the developing and mature super-ego, the functions of which include acting as the ego-ideal and conscience (Freud, 1933/1988, p. 98 - see also endnote 2 of this paper). In the identification and internalisation of values, attitudes and ideals of parents and other significant figures an ego-ideal is developed, but simultaneously, the prohibitive agency of the super-ego is developed in the course of those same identifications. Freud explained this dynamic by positing that the super-ego's "relation to the ego is not exhausted by the precept: "You ought to be like this (like your father)", it also comprises the prohibition: "You may not be like this (like your father) -- that is, you may not do all that he does; some things are his prerogative" " (Freud, 1923b/1984, p. 374, italics is original emphasis). The ego is narcissistically drawn to the ego-ideal - "the target of the self-love" (Freud, 1914/1984, p. 88); but, also from a fear of punishment, yields to the prohibitive aspect of the super-ego (see Nunberg, 1932/1955, p. 146).

The Work Organisation Context and the Psychodynamics of the "Passion" to Please

The psychodynamics we have just discussed do get played out in the work organisation and the hallmarks of these psychodynamics have been noted in recent research and will be commented upon presently. The group setting poses a particular context in which these psychodynamics become manifest. Freud, in On Narcissism, in linking individual psychology with group psychology asserts that "the ego ideal opens up an important avenue for the understanding of group psychology" (Freud, 1914/1984, p. 96). Later, Freud was to explain how group psychology was really an extension of individual psychology (see Freud, 1921/1985). In Freud's view, it is through the process of identification that the individual surrenders the current "ego ideal and substitutes for it the group ideal as embodied in the leader" (p.161) "(the group members) put one and the same object in place of their ego ideal and have consequently identified themselves with one another in their ego" (Freud, 1921/1985, p. 147). Gay tries to summarise Freud's position on this relationship by describing group psychology as "parasitic on individual psychology" (1988. p. 405).

In becoming members of a group, individuals surrender some of their individuality. The degree to which this occurs depends upon the strength of their projective identification and the strength of their introjective identification. If these identifications are continually reinforced through various forms of gratification then the sense of a created identity can be so strong that the prohibitive aspect of the super-ego may be disregarded and, as others have commented, "its functions taken over by the group ideals" (Sandler, 1960, pp. 156-157; see also Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1976, p. 363). Sandler cites World War II atrocities committed by the Nazis as an instance where "a complete character transformation" (1960, p. 157) occurred through just such a process. The Nazis are but one instance of a more general case where the "enveloping" of the body with a uniform also seems to "envelope" the mind. Recent territorial hostilities and ethnic cleansing around the globe reveal that today this is still the case.

In the work organisation it can be readily comprehended how the reified organisation and/or its leaders could be raised to the status of an ego-ideal. Indeed, the organisation and its leaders, through symbolic, material and other means, may satisfy narcissistic needs so well that employees view their own identities in terms of their work context. This is particularly enhanced in Western cultures that define individuals" "worth" in terms of the status of their employment. The monetary and/or status outcome compounds the degree of narcissistic gratification.

In similar vein, Howard Schwartz (1987) has coined the term organisation-ideal to convey the imagery of the collective values and attributes the organisation is seeking to implant as the ego-ideal. Similarly, the term psychostructure was used by Michael Maccoby (1976), Douglas La Bier (1983; 1986) and Adrian Carr (1993a; 1998) to try to convey the imagery of different clusters of traits that seem to be stimulated and reinforced by different forms and different hierarchical levels of work. For Maccoby, La Bier and Carr this imagery captured what seemed to emerge from the data they had collected from studying a number of work organisations. They, collectively, suggest that a selecting and moulding of character may occur in trying to achieve the organisation-ideal, and that to resist such moulding, would, on the one hand, represent forgone opportunity for narcissistic pleasure, but on the other hand, would risk the disapproval of the parental figure, the organisation, and the psychological and emotional trauma associated with being ignored or excluded (see Lemert, 1962). Thus what passed as "rational" behaviour needed to be seen within a context of psychodynamics infused with emotional content.

The studies by Maccoby and La Bier present a powerful testament to the notion that the work environment/culture has a potentially transforming affect upon individual personality traits. The vehicle for this transformation is the narcissistic potential that the ego-ideal (organisation-ideal) can realise, and the psychodynamics that can induce psychological punishment. The Maccoby (1976) and La Bier (1983; 1986) studies both heavily relied on analysis from the controversial Rorschach tests (1942) which were embedded in an interview process

In the case of Maccoby (1976), in a study that involved interviewing 250 managers from some twelve companies in different parts of the United States, he found a consistency in a cluster of traits that were stimulated and reinforced in the specific organization being researched. Specific character types were apparent and Maccoby noted that "although there is leeway in any role for some difference in style, intelligence, and character, as one moves up in a competitive and selective organization, these variations become less important" (1976, p. 174). The managers" orientation to work had an underlying psychodynamic that saw them as "prisoners" to their work environment. La Bier (1983; 1986), sought to somewhat tease-out this psychodynamic. He undertook a socio-psychoanalytic study that took some seven years to complete which involved 230 people aged between 25 and 47 who worked in government bureaucracies in America. La Bier, a psychotherapist, was concerned with gaining an understanding of why many of his private patients that had successful careers were nevertheless emotionally troubled. He felt conventional psychological theories were less than satisfactory in their explanations of any links between career success and emotional problems. La Bier had previously assumed that these troubled careerists had "difficulty in adjusting to the realities and demands of work" (1986, p. 6). He thought that perhaps part of the origins of an explanation might relate to the issue of submitting oneself to authority - possibly a link to a childhood re-enactment of rebellion against a parental figure. However, after talking and working with Maccoby, La Bier shifted his focus to consider "the possibility that some of my patients were troubled by problems more within the realm of adult adaptation than childhood" (1986, p. vii).

La Bier interviewed individuals who were successful careerists but however exhibited "emotional problems" such as anxiety, depression, overuse of drugs and alcohol, etc. Despite these emotional problems, these individuals were not inwardly disturbed. He also interviewed those who were successful careerists that outwardly exhibited no signs of emotional problems.

What I discovered was that within this group were people who were very sick. Some were dominated by unconscious, irrational passions of power-lust, conquest, grandiosity, and destructiveness, or conversely by cravings for humiliation and domination. Yet their pathology did not seep into the arena of their daily working lives and on-the-job behaviour. They appeared very well-adapted to their work, very competent, and intellectually skilled. From the outside, perfectly "normal" (1986, p. 8).

The paradox that La Bier calls "Modern Madness" is that some people appear sick but are normal while others appear normal but are sick. La Bier explains this paradox in terms of the psychostructure of work and specifically argues that the "well-adapted winners" in their work show little sign of their sickness in their working situation "because their career environment, in effect, requires disturbed attitudes and passions for success" (1986, p. 7). The word "passion" was also seen by La Bier as significant as he argued "we have forgotten that our lives are often driven by hidden passions ... passions, in this sense, are forces within us which we may not comprehend or be aware of" (1986, p. 17). La Bier was to note that there was a consistency in a clustering of traits, or character types, in different levels of development in "head" and "heart" qualities. The conclusion was that, what I have dubbed in this paper as the "passion to please", was very strong such that some "qualities" were developed while others were not. The hallmarks of the narcissistic underpinning of what passes for "rational" behaviour were evident. Also evident was the way in which what passed as the "rational" in the work environment was intertwined with emotional fall-out in forms of psychopathologies.

In 1990 Carr (1991; 1993a; 1993b; 1994a; 1994b; 1998) commenced a study that involved some 100 principals employed in public schools in South Australia. These school principals were asked to complete a Clinical Analysis Questionnaire (CAQ - see Krug & Cattell, 1980) - the intention was to use the CAQ to identify those within the sample who were experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression. This group would then be interviewed, and dream analysis undertaken to help identify the various sources of their anxiety and depression. Thirty five of the ninety four who completed a valid CAQ return appeared to have a high level of anxiety and or depression (i.e., 37 percent). From its 272 questions the CAQ provides information in relation to 16 normal personality traits, 12 clinical factors and 9 second order factors -- including anxiety and depression. The responses are "scored" with reference to so-called "normative" tables to produce a (sten) score based on a scale that ranges from zero to ten. A score of 4.5 to 6.5 is considered average, with scores higher or lower than average having particular meanings. In relation to normal personality traits (e.g., warmth, intelligence, dominance, boldness, sensitivity, imagination etc.), the scores for the whole sample was clustered in the average range, including those with high levels of anxiety and depression. This contrasts with clusters of high scores for school teachers in the stereotypic traits of being warm, abstract thinkers, bold, sensitive, imaginative human beings. The contrast between the clusters of teachers and school principals suggested that the specific organisation-ideal for those positions induced a psychostructure that was different for the two groups of employees. Accordingly, it was argued that school principals had been forced into a managerial role that stimulated concern for technical efficiency rather than a fostering of traits that had been valued when they were a teacher. The organisation-ideal that the Education Department sought to impart to principals, stimulated and encouraged certain personality traits whilst suppressing, dampening or not approving of others -- a psychostructure. Clearly, one explanation for this is the psychological process of identification. The narcissistic underpinning that explained why principals were behaving this way was explicitly revealed in the second part of the study involving dream analysis. An illustrative example of what emerged from this analysis can be noted from the dreams provided by "John".

John is a mild mannered, energetic individual who has an abhorrence for violence. In his mid-forties, he is considered by many in the teaching profession to be one of the most successful school principals in South Australia. One rumour had it that there was a waiting list for staff wanting to transfer into his school. John's CAQ score on anxiety was 9.6. In an official report his psychiatrist had just described him as "living on overdrawn emotional resources". In this context the dreams John related might seem bizarre, or at least out of character.

"I dreamt that I was on the top of a hill and defending the "last post". I had a machine gun - a Gatling gun. I was defending me, I would suspect, there was never anyone else there but me..." John felt he was under siege from various work-related interest groups. In making associations with the dream he declared "I tend to identify with my work and I don"t know what I can do about it - in the sense that my work and I became part of the same thing. Me is also my work. Now a threat to my work then becomes a threat to me".

John described another dream that tended to wake him up and keep him awake. This dream was related to the competing demands being made of him. "I was trying to solve problems at school, in particular the competing demands of the School Council, the staff, the parents and of course the Education Department. I was fearful of not meeting the expectations of the Education Department and of the consequences I imagined would happen to me as a result of non-performance. The omnipotent father figure who came down like a ton of bricks..." Little commentary seems necessary, the psychodynamic processes associated with identity and narcissism, outlined earlier, would appear to be well illustrated in these dreams.

The collective voice of these studies is one that puts emotions and emotionality into any frame through which we seek to comprehend what occurs in organisations. Very clearly the involvement of individuals in an organisation, in the form of what I have called a "passion to please", does have a narcissistic underpinning which, as we noted earlier, is viewed as being a primitive and fundamental emotional tie. Equally clear, in the studies discussed in this paper, the passion to achieve the organisation-ideal is one that appeared to occupy centre stage. The recognition of emotion and emotionality as specifically presented in this paper is one that, in itself, has a number of significant implications and simultaneously points to some other broader issues. Let me conclude with a discussion of such considerations.

Living with the Passion to Please in Work Organisations: Implications and Concluding Remarks

This paper commenced by noting that all too commonly the organisation discourse presents a putative dichotomous choice of the realm of the rational versus that of emotion. This paper presents a case for the need to go beyond this dichotomous world and develop a greater appreciation of how the rational and the emotional can be "fused" or act in a co-existent and co-dependent fashion where one cannot be understood in the absence of the other. Acts of so called rationality may simply be an expression of a deeper, albeit unconscious realm, psychodynamic in which emotion and emotionality are significant. Conversely it is evident that emotion and emotionality can be seen as being a highly rational act when it is considered within the larger psychodynamic context.

Our models in the organisation discourse, thus far, lack the sophisticated appreciation of such dynamics. Forms of involvement in organisations, for example, have often been largely construed in terms of the notion of a psychological contract - a contract that was noted as being cast as an outcome of a mutually bargained process. This paper clearly identifies that it is largely the unconscious character (Baum, 1991, p. 265) that is involved in the "exchange" process in the organisation, and that this context is specific to an organisation, or form of work. This exchange process has, as its fundamental vehicle, an emotional "driver", i.e. narcissistic gratification. It is in such a context that the degree of choice and fairness in this exchange would be more accurately interpreted as "seducement" and has a complex psychodynamic involving the realm of emotion that includes "love". The lyrics of a pop song from the group American Breed aptly capture this dynamic i.e., "bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, as long as you love me it's alright" (Carr, 1993a). Accordingly, the idea of mutual choice appears absurd. As an extension of this line of thought one could add that the whole notion of power would seem to need some re-thinking in order to consider, not only how it is reproduced over the individual, but also how it is reproduced in the individual. A more sophisticated appreciation of psychodynamics in which emotion and the rational maybe intertwined or inter-related in a more complex fashion, would seem to suggest a need to reconsider some of the shibboleths of our field such as the notion of power.

A second fundamental issue that specifically arises from this paper is that much of the literature on work-related psychopathology has prescribed adaptation therapy for those so-called sick individuals. La Bier argues, correctly in my view, that one must "look beyond the presence or absence of symptoms per se and towards an understanding of the meaning of symptoms in relation to the forces of character" (1983, p. 417) that are promoted by experiencing a particular work environment. In the study by Carr, to have 37 percent of principals with anxiety and/or depression scores above the average for the general population, suggests that what they are being asked to "adapt to and become successful at" (La Bier, 1986, p. 194) may itself be "sick" (psychopathological) with fractured or contradictory organisational structures and processes. In the case of school principals it doesn"t seem to make sense to stimulate, encourage and promote them to principalship on the basis of their teaching excellence and pedagogical criteria if that expertise is then largely to be set aside in favour of skills and traits that focus upon managerial efficiency.

Arising from these specific group of studies that point the quest for an organisation-ideal and to the creation of a psychostructure, it would seem that the concept of "psychological audits" (Carr, 1993b) would appear a useful regular activity for an organisation. The term "regular" is used in order to move away from the idea that we should only enquire when there appears to be a reason to investigate, e.g., through superficial statistical information about the number of absences from work per employee etc. The earlier quote from La Bier makes it clear that the mere presence or absence of stress does not in itself mean that the psychological environment is a healthy one. The public record is littered with instances where the prohibitive aspect of the super-ego has been suspended in favour of the group ideals, e.g., Watergate in the United States, and in Australia, the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. Given the strong identification that may be induced by leaders in an organisation, that leadership, it seems to me, might be a good starting place for such audits. Indeed, leadership positions, by their very access to symbolic and material power, afford opportunities for individuals to engage in pathological or exaggerated forms of narcissism. It is in such a context that work practices, linked to subordinate-superordinate relationships that seek to transcend the emotional-rational "divide", may provide a fruitful understanding of the organisation more generally (see Diamond, 1992).

A further issue that appears to arise from this paper is a need to gain a more comprehensive appreciation of how personal/life experience and work-lives inter-relate. It is clearly the case that the work context can transform the character of an individual but what circumstances make the work context so potent? In this context it is interesting to note the results of a study by Brigitta Gold (1990), who used the CAQ in a manner similar to that of the principals" study. Gold investigated the gender differences in the personality profiles of managers in Germany. Apart from showing a slightly greater robustness, and marginally higher intelligence than their male counterparts, the female profiles were virtually identical to those of the males. In the principals" study there were no significant differences in the profiles on the basis of gender. This would seem, of itself, a particularly important issue in an era where there is an advocacy for more females in leadership positions because it is perceived that they bring to those positions a different (neglected) and valuable range of characteristics that are currently conspicuous by their absence. Clearly we need a thorough understanding of the factors that cause the "suspension" of these experiential characteristics but, again, more generally a conception of the human psyche that is more sophisticated than we have seen in the discourse thus far.


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1. This paper represents an extension of a paper published earlier in Organization (Carr, 1998). The author wishes to thank the large number of scholars who provided encouraging feedback which has, in part, inspired this paper.

2. I am aware that there is a difference of opinion in some of the psychoanalytic literature as to the distinction between the ego-ideal and the super-ego (see on this point Laplanche and Pontalis 1988: 145). I will be arguing, later in this paper, that the ego-ideal matures to be clearly differentiated from the ego and is the positive sense of the super-ego. This is in keeping with Freud's later work where at one point he clearly describes the super-ego as having "the functions of self-observation, of conscious and of [maintaining] the ideal" (Freud, 1933/1988: 98) and a footnote points to a previous page to reinforce that the "ideal" that is being spoken about is the ego-ideal (Freud, 1933/1988: 96).

Biographical Note

Adrian Carr is the Principal Research Fellow in the School of Social, Community and Organisation Studies at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia. Dr Carr's areas of research interest are critical social psychology, psychoanalytic theory, critical theory, postmodernism, ethics, dissent in organizations and the management of change.

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