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Wilfred Bion’s Organization Change Legacy: “Without Memory or Desire”

  • Sarah J. Brazaitis
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Wilfred Bion was a change leader who served in and lived through two World Wars and was deeply affected by his experiences on the battlefield and later in treating veterans with shell shock as an army psychiatrist. From his earliest experiences of group life (including bullying) at a British boarding school, to his frustration of enduring the politics and sometimes corrupt aspects of military life, to his satisfaction in developing new, respectful and successful treatment modalities for veterans, to his innovative efforts at transforming the army’s hiring practices, and finally to being a founding member of group relations and experiential learning in industry – Bion’s contributions to organization change are monumental and long lasting. His theory of basic assumptions in group life, his development of the therapeutic community, and his ground-breaking leaderless group technique are all innovations that are used today in organization change efforts. More than half a century after Bion formulated his ideas, his contributions continue to reverberate with significant impact. This chapter traces Bion’s life and legacy as a seminal leader in organization change.

Keywords

Basic assumptions Bion Group dynamics Group relations Leaderless group Therapeutic community Psychodynamic theories Psychoanalysis Shell shock Tavistock Institute Work group mentality 

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Further Reading

  1. Bion, W. R. (1946). The leaderless group project. Menninger Clinic Bulletin, 10, 7–81.Google Scholar
  2. Bion, W. R. (1961). Experiences in groups. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bion, W. R. (1967). Notes on memory and desire. Psychoanalytic Forum, 2(3), 272–280.Google Scholar
  4. Bléandonu, G. (1994). Wilfred Bion: His life and works 1897–1979. New York: Other Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organization and LeadershipTeachers College, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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