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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Sep 29, 2019

“What we bring is really a deeper understanding of out of awareness behavior. Why don’t people do what is so logical, so rational? Why do they sabotage themselves? Why are executives self-destructive? Why do they suffer from hubris? Why do most executive teams not work very well? What are the dynamics going on in the group?”


Description: Dr. Steven Rolfe welcomes Manfred Kets de Vries, Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change and the Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt Chaired Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD. Bringing to bear his knowledge and experience of economics, management, and psychoanalysis, he scrutinizes the interface between international management, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and dynamic psychiatry. Manfred is the founder of The Challenge of Leadership executive program at INSEAD and founder of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Centre. The Financial Times, Le Capital and The Economist rated Manfred Kets de Vries as one of the world’s top fifty leading management thinkers, as well as one of the most influential contributors to human resource management. He is the author, co-author or editor of forty-nine books and has published over 400 papers as articles or chapters in books. His books and articles have been  translated into more than thirty languages.


Key takeaways:

[3:17] Manfred Kets de Vries talks about his background.

[6:05] Manfred Kets de Vries talks about his initial interest in psychoanalysis and how it affected his interest in leadership.

[11:15] Choosing the first supervisor.

[12:28] Manfred Kets de Vries first patient was an entrepreneur.

[14:21] Teaching psychology and management

[15:21] Starting a seminar for senior executives.

[16:23] Manfred Kets de Vries wonders what can he do to create best places to work.

[17:24] Getting involved in psychoanalysis.

[20:15] Calling on psychoanalysts to pay attention to the world of work.

[20:47] The focus often is on structures and systems because people are unpredictable.

[22:20] The clinical paradigm.

[25:45] The shadow side of leadership; when leaders become destructive and abusive.

[29:05] How easily the darker side of leadership emerges.

[30:36] Political expediency in the Trump administration.

[33:42] What the psychoanalyst brings to the understanding of leaders and organizations.

[35:45] Helping people to become reflective leaders.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch

Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership: Leadership Pathology in Everyday Life, Manfred Kets de Vries


Recommended Readings:


Kets de Vries (2019)  Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership, Palgrave Macmillan


Kets de Vries and Carlock (2007) Family Business on the Couch, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd


Kets de Vries (2006)The Leader on the Couch, Jossey-Bass


Kets de Vries (2001) Struggling with the Demon, Psychosocial Press, IUP.


Kets de Vries and Miller (1984) The Neurotic Organization, Jossey-Bass