Mixed Models

Table of Contents:

It is always problematic to speak of pure types in a typology. People are complex. They have developed a system of psychological defense mechanisms that work for them. These defenses are a necessity for everyone, but for some they become rigidly adhered to, becoming much like a character or personality disorder. It is also the case, given the complexity of human nature, that more than one of these defensive responses may be relied on. A typical mixed model, we have found, in the workplace is vacillation between moving against and toward others.

An example is a leader who prefers to move against others trying to dominate and control most aspects of an organization and make decisions at all levels of the organization, which is enabled by modern information systems. Anyone who gets in the way is disciplined or discharged. At the same time, this individual is easily made to feel anxious and uncertain when an out-of-control situation is encountered or a highly visibledecision is questioned by someone higher in the organization. This leader may suddenly need secure attachment, reassurance, nurturing, admiration, and even love—the movement toward others. An inner circle of enablers must shore up this fragile sense of self in the moment to permit the leader to once again feel self-assured, admired, and back in control, which in turn restores the leader to an idealized but also dominating and abusive state.

Movement against others may also be paired with movement away during stressful periods where just simply avoiding the stress is in order. The leader might suddenly take a business trip or go golfing to create soothing down time away from the stress. Leaders who most often move toward others may, during times of stress, rather than move against others move away, withdraw, and become unavailable for secure attachment as well as leadership.

In conclusion, the three directions of movement—toward, against, and away—offer an intuitive framework that helps to account for what one often encounters in life and at work. These three defensive directions of movement provide the basis for and insight into many of the applied workplace poems in this book.


The three theoretical approaches used in this book do not nearly exhaust all the possible approaches that might be used. We, in fact, do use other theoretical perspectives as appropriate. If anything can be said about using psychoanalytic theory to understand the workplace and the applied poems, it is that the theory provides vitally important ways to organize and interpret the data that one finds when observing human behavior in organizations. The theories are not perfect for interpreting the workplace, and they must be cautiously and intelligently adapted to provide workplace insights.

We hope this book both promotes critical thinking about the workplace and also shows how psychoanalytically informed analyses contribute to (or not) understanding and perhaps changing the workplace, to improve organizational performance and at the same time create a more humane workplace.

In Conclusion

We conclude by humbly submitting the following consideration. Any approach to understanding the immense complexity resident in human nature and groups at work will necessarily come up short. However, we also suggest that not trying to understand these complex workplace dynamics is not a good option either.

We dedicate the remainder of this book to the proposition that many valuable insights can be gained by using psychoanalytically informed perspectives. We also suggest that it is particularly essential to make this effort in order to avoid the many negative aspects that the dark side of human nature and group relations introduces into our lives at work. We all need to be dedicated to trying to understand human nature and the negative effects it has on our lives at work. In sum, we need to be able to learn from our experiences—good and bad. Applied poetry in toxic workplaces can be an instrument of that learning.


1. Some of the books used to discuss object relations are:

Grotstein, J. (1985). Splitting and projective identification. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Kohut, H. (1984). How does analysis cure? A. Goldberg (Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Segal, H. (1973). Introduction to the work of Melanie Klein. London: Karnac. Greenberg, J. & Mitchell, S. (1983). Object relations in psychoanalytic theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Scharff, J. (1992). Projective and introjec-tive identification and the use of the therapists self. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Tansev, M. & Burke, W. (1989). Understanding countertransference. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.

2. Some of the books used to discuss group relations are:

Allcorn, S. 8c Diamond, M. (1997). Managing people during stressful times: The psychologically defensive workplace. Westport, CT: Quorum Books. Colman, A. 8c Bexton, H. (Eds.). (1975). Group relations reader. Sausalito, CA: Grex. Colman, A. 8c Geller, M. (Eds.). (1985). Group relations reader 2. Washington, DC: A.K. Rice Institute. Czander, W. (1993). The psychodynamics of work and organizations. New York: Guilford Press. Diamond, M. 8c Allcorn, S. (1990). The Freudian factor. Personnel Journal, 69(3), 52-65.

  • 3. Bion, W. (1961). Experience in groups. London: Tavistock.
  • 4. Rioch, M. (1975). Group relations: Rationale and technique. In A. Colman 8c W. Bexton (Eds.). Group relations reader. Washington, DC: A.K. Rice Institute Series, pp. 11-33.
  • 5. Rioch, M. (1975). Group relations: Rationale and technique. In A. Colman 8c W. Bexton (Eds.). Group relations reader. Washington, DC: A.K. Rice Institute Series, pp. 11-33.
  • 6. Rioch, M. (1975). Group relations: Rationale and technique. In A. Colman 8c W. Bexton (Eds.). Group relations reader. Washington, DC: A.K. Rice Institute Series, pp. 11-33.
  • 7. Some of the books and articles used to discuss Karen Horney are:

Diamond, M. 8c Allcorn, S. (1984). Psychological barriers to personal responsibility. Organizational Dynamics, 12(4), 66-77. Diamond, M. 8c Allcorn, S. (1985a). Psychological dimensions of role use in bureaucratic organizations. Organizational Dynamics, 14(1), 35-59. Diamond, M. 8c Allcorn, S. (1985b). Psychological responses to stress in complex organizations. Administration & Society, 17(2), 217-239. Diamond, M. 8c Allcorn, S. (1986). Role formation as defensive activity in bureaucratic organization. Political Psychology, 7(4), 709-731. Kets de Vries, M. (2006). The leader on the couch: A clinical approach to changing people and organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • 8. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York: Norton.
  • 9. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York: Norton.
  • 10. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York: Norton.
  • 11. Babiak, P. & Hare, R. (2006). Snakes in suits: When psychopaths go to

work. New York: Harper; Schouten, R. & Silver, J. (2012). Almost a psychopath. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

12. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth. New York: Norton.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >