2022-07-08 notes on social defenses in organizations

Excerpts and notes about James Krantz 2010 Social Defenses and 21st Century Organizations:

  • "social systems function as a defense against persecutory and depressive anxiety".
    • persecutory anxiety: "fear of destruction by external forces"(1).
    • depressive anxiety: "concerns fears regarding the fate of others in the face of one's own hatred and aggression"(1).

/ these anxieties are ever-present //. / as individuals we learn to manage and cope with these feelings //. "... in organizations the structures and practices of decision-making, and the divisions of authority and labor, etc. are the "stuff" of social defenses. While these aspects of organizational life exist to facilitate work, they come to be utilized for the additional purpose of helping people manage anxiety. (Krantz, p. 2)

/ unconscious processes and social defenses // " ... the features of emerging organizations that require new ways of thinking about unconscious processes and social defenses are:

  • the diminished role of small groups and of stable, clearly bounded social entities;
  • networks, rather than group and inter-group relations, as increasingly forming the basis for connection;
  • negotiated, rather than delegated, authority;
  • horizontal rather than vertical sources of authorization; and.
  • a pervasive reliance on computer mediated relationships.

How new structures and work methods will interact with individual’s anxieties and whether they can be used to promote creativity and depressivity rather than institutionalize more primitive relations is a question of great import. (Krantz, p. 4)


  1. Alford, C. Fred, Melanie Klein & Critical Social Theory, Yale Univ Press, 1989, ISBN 0-300-04506-9, p. 35

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