Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 142–164

Organizational Change and the Analytic Third: Locating and Attending to Unconscious Organizational Psychodynamics


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.pcs.2100116

Cite this article as:
Diamond, M. Psychoanal Cult Soc (2007) 12: 142. doi:10.1057/palgrave.pcs.2100116


This article examines the concept of the analytic third in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically informed organizational change. The analytic third is often defined as the psychological (triangular) space between self and other, subject and object, fantasy and reality – the third dimension that emerges from two persons fully engaged in the exploration of unconscious meanings, reasons, motives and actions. In neo-Kleinian object relations, it is viewed as the intersubjective dimension of transference and counter-transference, or the emergence in analytic work of the observation and experience of “I-as-subject” and “Me-as-object” (Ogden, 1994). The analytic third is what we create when we make genuine contact with one another at a deeper emotional level of experience whether in dyads, groups, communities, or organizations. It might be understood as akin to but not synonymous with Winnicott's (1971) notion of the transitional and potential space, where culture, play, creativity and imagination, reside. A case illustration is provided to better articulate the nature of the analytic third in the processes of observing, participating, and intervening in organizations.


the third in psychoanalysis the intersubjective field of awareness triangular mental space psychodynamics of organizational change organizational identity 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Organizational Change, University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbiaUSA

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