Citizen Psychoanalysts: From Social Issue Advocacy to Business and Leadership Consulting

My interest in consulting to people in business, investing and organizations evolved from work I did within the American Psychoanalytic Association and the International Psychoanalytical Association promoting the idea that the field of psychoanalysis had tremendous contributions to make to understanding the complexities that lie beneath vexing social issues. To make such a contribution, though, we psychoanalysts needed to learn to get out of our clinical offices and show how our ideas could be powerful illuminators of all kinds of challenges people and groups face. That is, we weren’t just able to help with neurotic problems or mental illness. Instead our theory and concepts applied to all human behavior and adds a unique dimension of understanding that is essential to a full appreciation of the obstacles people face in their work, decisions and causes. The core contributions of psychoanalysis are these:

>People are never entirely rational in their thinking or decision making
>The non-rational elements stem from a complex matrix of emotion, temperament and individual personal history
>Much of the non rational component of human behavior, thinking, perception and decision making is unconscious

After years of work applying psychoanalytic thinking to social issues and politics and teaching my colleagues to do the same, I realized that there was a great unmet need in business for these powerful ideas to be put to work for individuals faced with making critical decisions- individuals who were aware enough to realize that psychological forces profoundly affected these decisions. These psychological forces can’t be ignored or stoically conquered. But understood and analyzed, they can be effectively harnessed. There is a psychology to every human interaction. But every psychological phenomenon doesn’t indicate pathology. So, I thought, shouldn’t a business leader have access to this in depth psychological analysis of critical situations he or she is facing right out in the business world, not in the therapists office? That’s the path that led me from clinical work to Invantage Advising.

But I am very proud of the work psychoanalysts have done out “in the world”–using psychoanalytic understanding to promote positive change. In 2015, I was invited to give the inaugural presentation in a lecture series sponsored by the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis called “Psychoanalysis Today”. The title of my lecture was “The Citizen Psychoanalyst in Today’s Troubled World”. I described some of my own work in veterans’ health care as well as that of colleagues in areas ranging from climate change to political conflict in Northern Ireland to race issues in Latin America. My lecture can be seen in two parts on YouTube. Click here to see the talk.

Spread the word. Share this post!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *