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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Jan 24, 2021

"By sitting down with me, they were really, in a way, forced to be more reflective, so I had only reflected back to them some of what they were saying and not paying attention to, but I think sitting with me encouraged them to be a little more reflective themselves. They would have to slow down because they were trying to attune to me as I was trying to attune to them."

Description: Dr. Steven Rolfe welcomes Dr. Kenneth Eisold to today’s episode to talk about leadership, groups, what psychoanalysis brings to consulting, and the differences between psychoanalysis and consulting with organizations.


Kenneth Eisold, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst, who has been consulting on management dilemmas for a number of years. In addition to having a deep understanding of individual behavior, honed through his extensive counseling and coaching practice with executives and leaders, he has a wide understanding of the complexities of system-wide behavior, both overt and covert, affecting the ability of organizations to address their missions.


Dr. Eisold is currently President of the William Alanson White Institute In New York City, he previously served as President of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations. For several years he directed the A. K. Rice Institute’s National Conference, devoted to the study of leadership, authority, and organizational dynamics. He has also worked on conferences designed to help managers grasp the complex dynamics of systems in New York, Washington, Chicago, Houston, St. Louis, and Seattle.

In 2010, he published What You Don't Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else, a review of unconscious dynamics in individual, group and organizational settings, as understood in psychoanalytic theory and updated by more recent neuropsychological research. 2017 saw the publication of his collected papers on The Organizational Life of Psychoanalysis (La Psicoanalisi e le sue Instituzioni was published two years earlier in Italy.) Dr. Eisold has worked extensively with professional organizations, hospitals, university schools and departments, law firms, and training institutes. He has coached leaders in the financial industry, public health, law, and higher education.

Key takeaways:

[6:26] Dr. Eisold shares his thoughts about the concept of applied psychoanalysis.

[8:07] Dr. Eisold talks about how he got immersed in consulting.

[11:07] What does Dr. Eisold think now about the interaction between the leader and the group after more than 20 years of conceptualizing the myth of the heroic leader?

[13:01] Dr. Eisold explains the differences between therapy and consulting.

[17:45] What does psychoanalysis bring to consulting?

[19:52] Similarities between supervision and consulting.

[22:38] How can psychoanalysts be further trained to work with organizations?

[25:59] Dr. Eisold shares some examples from his work with organizations.

[33:19] Dr. Eisold and  Dr. Rolfe talk about the unconscious needs behind the decision-making process in organizations.

[37:58] Dr. Eisold talks about a case of a trader he used to work with.

[40:11] Dr. Rolfe shares an abstract from one of Dr. Eisold’s papers written in 2004. 

[41:50] Dr. Eisold reflects on the paper he wrote in 2004 and how much is still true today.


Mentioned in this episode

IPA Off the Couch  


Recommended Readings:

Eisold, Kenneth, The Organizational Life of Psychoanalysis: Conflicts, Dilemmas and the Future of the Profession, Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2018.


Eisold, Kenneth. Corporate Greed and the New Class System, Chapter 5 in Greed: Developmental, Cultural and Clinical Realms, Salman Akhtar, ed., pp 87 – 105, London: Karnac, 20015.


Eisold, Kenneth. Psychoanalysis at Work, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, vol 22: no 5 ( 2012), pp 517-528.


Eisold, Kenneth, What You Don't Know You Know: Our Hidden Motivations in Life, Business, and Everything Else. New York: Other Press, 2010.