Psychoanalysis and Organisations with David Armstrong

Episode 27,  May 13, 2021, 12:00 AM

David Armstrong is a thought leader and inspiration to many working in the field of psychoanalysis and organisations. In this podcast David shares his experiences of working with pioneers in the field after joining the Tavistock Institute in 1959. David describes how alive the Tavistock project was in its early days.  Innovations coming from the Tavistock Clinic through infant observation, attachment theory and the work of Menzies-Lythe and Ronnie Laing among many others. And from the Tavistock Institute through Eric Miller, Eric Trist and A.K. Rice and colleagues. David shares his experience of attending Wilfred Bion’s study group and how he became engaged in psychoanalytic work led by the Tavistock Clinic.  He shares how the work in the Institute had a radical and political edge.  ‘Democratising the workplace’ was and is, one of David’s inspirations in this field, and remains vital today.   David discusses the question, ‘what is a psychoanalytic approach to organisations’, and highlights the importance of the action-research approach, which he feels has become marginalised, as a drift towards external consultancy now dominates the psychoanalytic-systems approach.  David discusses the mutual interaction between the external and internal world as key to his work, and how there has been a shift from working with the Organisation-in-the-mind, to Networks-in-the-mind.  In this wide-ranging discussion, David shares his interest in how religious dissenting traditions such as Methodism also influenced the psychoanalytic-organisational field, bringing social change and the group to the fore.   

Bio David Armstrong 
David studied philosophy at Oxford University then trained as a psychologist in Cambridge University and has worked in action research and organisational consultancy for over 60 years. He joined the Tavistock Institute working alongside some of the pioneers in the field.  David went on to work in the Grubb Institute and Tavistock Consultancy Service.  David has worked in this field with senior executives and executive teams in business, government, health and education in the UK and worldwide.  His experience includes working with executives in pharmaceuticals, investment banking, NHS trusts, local government, higher education, prison governors and for senior civil servants. He is a leading thinker in the domain of psychoanalysis and organisations, bringing insights and sharing experiences that have inspired the wider field.   David is a distinguished member of ISPSO. David is author of Organization in the Mind: Psychoanalysis,Group Relations and Organizational Consultancy, edited by Robert French.