"The ticking clock thing": a systems psychodynamic study of UK organisations that engage the public on climate change

Nestor, Rebecca J (2023) "The ticking clock thing": a systems psychodynamic study of UK organisations that engage the public on climate change. Organisational and Social Dynamics, 23 (1). pp. 15-32. ISSN 1474-2780 (Print) ; 2044-3765 (Online)

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Systems psychodynamic scholars have paid limited attention to organisational dynamics in organisations whose task includes addressing climate change, but the experience of working in such organisations is increasingly significant as the climate crisis intensifies. The doctoral study described here identified seven themes and related social defences characterising the experience of working in such organisations: exclusion, shame, sexualised excitement and threat, splitting, a sense of fragility, an uncertain relationship with authority, and difficulties with grieving. The emotional flavour of these social defences resonates with the climate emotions proposed by the existing body of climate psychology literature. A tentative proposal is made that working in this field constitutes a traumatic epistemological, social, and emotional experience; and that the fact of the traumatic experience is the "unthought known" in this work. Organisations that engage the public on climate change, it is proposed, may experience a trauma-influenced basic assumption mentality and may unconsciously activate a version of the "internal establishment" that exists to defend against the unthought known, with the establishment unleashing perverse dynamics and other defensive mechanisms such as shame, with a particular focus on maintaining the split polarities and thereby preventing genuine connection with others who are different.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Basic assumption; Climate crisis; Organisation theory; Systems psychodynamics; Trauma
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Group Processes/Group Dynamics
Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Human Psychological Processes > Strange Environment/Situation
Department/People: Visiting Lecturer
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2817

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