What stands between us and authoritarianism seems increasingly fragile. Democratic practices are under attack by foreign intrusion into elections; voter suppression restricts citizen participation. Nations are turning to autocratic leaders in the face of rapid social change. Democratic values and open society can only be preserved if citizens can discover and claim their voices. We access society through our organisations, yet the collective voices and irrationalities of these organisations do not currently offer clear pathways for individuals to locate themselves. How can we move through the mounting chaos of our social systems, through our multiple roles in groups and institutions, to find a voice that matters? What kind of perspective will allow institutional leaders to facilitate the discovery of active citizenship and support engagement?
This book draws on psychodynamic systems thinking to offer a new understanding of the journey from being an individual to joining society as a citizen. With detailed stories, the steps - and the conscious and unconscious linkages - from being a family member, to entering outside groups, to taking up and making sense of institutional roles, illuminate the process of claiming the citizen role. With the help of leaders who recognise and utilise the dynamics of social systems, there may be hope for us as citizens to use our institutional experiences to discover a place to stand.
'This is a brilliantly realized treatment of what it means to be a citizen, and how we find our way there through the deeply personal psychological voyage we all must sail. Finding a Place to Stand uses cutting-edge behavioral science, clear and cogent story-telling, and a deep understanding of the human condition to create a book that should be on every citizen's nightstand.'
Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret); Supreme Allied Commander at NATO (2009-2013); Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (2013-2018)
'This is a book about close listening to and learning from experience, within and across the social frames in which we live, grow, work, and relate. At one level, it tells the story of one individual's own journey of discovery, as a psychiatrist keenly attuned to the social contexts in which he practices and leads. At another, it is a powerful exploration of the conscious and unconscious processes involved in finding and enabling others to find one's own voice, as an "internal citizen," in a family, a group, an organization, and a nation. Hugely ambitious, wonderfully accessible, its publication could scarcely be more timely.'
David Armstrong, Associate Consultant, Tavistock Consulting, London
'Taking off from the now familiar idea of studying "the individual in context," Dr. Shapiro brilliantly extends this concept from the parent-child matrix, to the couple, the developing family, the group - a social or work entity - and onto the larger collectives of institutions and political cultures. The trajectory of this book also covers the four decades of Shapiro's work experiences: in individual treatment, in hospital administration, in group dynamics, and in the study of group relations. It is an amazing ride. He is educating us so carefully in the ways that unconscious forces, splitting, and conflict, at every level of social organization, impede and shape our individual and social capacities. Read this book as an individual, as a practitioner, but, above all, as a citizen. A fascinating, containing guide in turbulent times.'
Adrienne Harris, psychoanalyst, New York University, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
'Finding a Place to Stand is a psycho-socio-political tour de force - carefully, steadily, and powerfully building the case for conscious integration of our multiple human identities so that we can learn to coexist and participate as citizens in an increasingly complex and disruptive world. Dr. Shapiro draws deeply and effectively on his experiences, both as a psychiatrist and as a manager-leader, to set the stage for his exploration of the divisions in our society and his search for citizens who can bridge the divides.'
John Shattuck, Professor of Practice in Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (1993-1998); U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic (1998-2000)
Table of Contents:
Part I: Developmental Steps Toward Citizenship
Joining: How are they right?
Containment and Communication
Making Sense of Organizational Dynamics
The Interpretive Stance
Taking Up a Role: A Case Example
Part II: Leadership and the Self-Reflective Institution
The CEO: Developing Institutional Citizenship
Learning about Systems Psychodynamics
From Group Relations to Leadership
Shaping a Mission: Case Example
A Citizenship Laboratory
Institutional Learning on Behalf of Society
Part III: A Citizen in Society
Approaching Social Interpretation Through Institutions
Do Nations Have Missions: American Identity
Citizenship as Development
Society as a Multicellular Learning System
About the Author:
Edward R. Shapiro, MD, was Medical Director/CEO of the Austen Riggs Center and is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and Principal of the Boswell Group. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, winner of several professional awards, and features on US News & World Report's list of "Top Doctors".