Psychoanalytic considerations of emotional life at work to enhance diversity and inclusion
Ulus, E. (2009) Psychoanalytic considerations of emotional life at work to enhance diversity and inclusion. In: Equal Opportunities International Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009.
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While psychoanalysis frequently brings to mind images of the therapeutic couch and an individualistic approach to understanding emotional life, upon closer inquiry this field represents a diverse range of exploration with great utility for the work place. In fact Freud did explore unique aspects of group life (Freud, 1955), and dynamics addressed like the sources of group ties and leader-follower relations provide rich insights about emotional life at work. This information in turn illustrates ways to understand emotions when advocating for equal opportunity and diversity and to intervene effectively in oppressive situations of workplace discrimination. Freud’s work then paved the way for intriguing contemporary studies on psychoanalytic considerations. As shown by Nghe and Mahalik (2001), one’s level of cultural identity was associated with specific defences (2001); defences in a psychoanalytic context refer to defence mechanisms like denial or displacement. People may therefore utilize certain defences, based upon their own stage of cultural identity development, in their reactions to other majority or minority groups, and understanding these patterns provides great insight for improving multicultural relations. Another study examined defences and linguistic diversity (Vaes & Wicklund, 2002), and the results have implications for work settings with multiple levels of diversity including linguistic ones, such as when native speakers discuss amongst themselves while other groups do not understand, resulting in experiences of threat and concomitant defences (Vaes & Wicklund, 2002). Such behaviours of reacting to threat (Vaes & Wicklund, 2002), must not only be addressed to preserve the integrity of the organization, but also must be changed to foster diversity as a source of strength, thus enriching employees, improving workers’ personal development, and enhancing output. In addition to discussing the above considerations, the advantages conferred by applying the interdependence of psychoanalytic and social constructionist perspectives in more richly uncovering the nature of emotional life in organizations, and subsequently enhancing interventions for greater diversity, will also be addressed.