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Faculty & Research


Metaphors of Success: Finding Potential Manifestations of Unconscious Phantasy?

Journal Article
In Kleinian theory, unconscious phantasy concerning object relations, underlies all mental functioning. Understanding and becoming aware of unconscious phantasy is believed to be of importance in driving mental integration, and thereby of help to constructively relate to others and reality. In a pilot study the authors analysed associative material from young Russian leaders about the topic of professional success, using the lens of Kleinian object relations theory. The question explored was if themes in the associations at group level could be meaningfully understood as potential expressions of unconscious phantasy patterns. The authors found four major themes in the associations: 1. Collaboration, generativity, and ambivalence; 2. Control, possession and perfection; 3. Competition, winning and omnipotence; 4. War and the image of an enemy. The themes form a spectrum that could be considered to reflect different Kleinian unconscious phantasy patterns. The authors' findings merit further research into unconscious phantasy patterns and their impact on leadership behaviour such as decision making, team building and conflict regulation.

Adjunct Professor of Organisational Behaviour

Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour