Anxieties and Defences: Normal and Abnormal

Article


Rustin, M. 2015. Anxieties and Defences: Normal and Abnormal. Organisational & Social Dynamics. 15 (2), pp. 233-247.
AuthorsRustin, M.
Abstract

This paper reflects on some issues that have emerged since Social
Defences against Anxiety—Explorations in a Paradigm (Armstrong and
Rustin, 2014) was published in 2014, and is a contribution to a continuing
debate on these issues. Its starting point is an implicit contrast
in the perspective taken by different contributors to the volume, in
regard to the nature, significance, and function of anxiety as a social
state of mind. This difference has both cultural and ideological dimensions.
One perspective is broadly shaped by concerns for “social protection”,
embodied in the health, education, and welfare systems of
the UK. Anxieties are believed to arise, in the context of responses to
physical or mental ill-health, social deprivation, deviancy, or sexual
disturbance, and also of breakdowns of relationships and organisations.
It is the task of certain social institutions, networks, and professions
to manage these. They are often found to do this badly, as in
Isobel Menzies Lyth’s original study, by means of unconscious social
defences that have harmful unintended consequences. The sources
of the anxieties in question are seen as natural and unavoidable
elements of human lives, but as nevertheless constituting threats to
well-being. The underlying goal is to find ways of coping with the
anxieties that lessen their impact, and that enable them to be borne
in constructive ways. Common issues are those faced by welfare systems
whose tasks are those of social reparation. For many years an
anxiety has been widely felt throughout the relevant professions and
services in Britain that their entire function has been placed under
threat through demands for their marketisation and through an
increasing scarcity of resources. This has been as a crisis of a “dependency
culture”, (Khaleelee, 2003; Khaleelee & Miller, 1985), even
though an important aspect of this crisis is intolerance and disparagement
of the condition of dependency itself (Dartington, 2010).

JournalOrganisational & Social Dynamics
Journal citation15 (2), pp. 233-247
ISSN1474-2780
Year2015
PublisherKarnac Books
Publisher's version
License
CC BY
Publication dates
Print2015
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jan 2016
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/857yv

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