An exploration of the presence of projections and projective identification manifestation within the social work department.

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Goodwill, Jennifer
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study was to explore whether the unconscious processes of splitting, projection and projective identification were present in the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA). Qualitative research techniques were used when six participants took part in one-to-one semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis captured three common themes that, at times, were interwoven and overlapped each other. The first theme was the projection of the drives within society and the organisation, namely Eros and predominantly, Thanatos. The other two themes contained Eros and predominantly Thanatos in the two Basic Assumption groups the basic assumption of Incohesion: Aggregation/Massification ((ba) I:A/M) and Fight/Flight. The research suggests that participants joined the organisation as a defence against feelings evoked by the depressive position in an attempt to resolve their own internal framework. Splitting and projection were used to avoid emotions. Repetitious policies and procedures created by the organisation to protect itself from a fear of annihilation increased written work. The time spent on paperwork took Social Workers away from their clients. Social Workers were on the receiving end of society’s projections which some interviewees described identifying with. The presence of these unconscious themes impacted the organisational structure, as participants described how role suction evolved within the organisation that led to sub-groups forming that fought as the gap between Upper Management and workers became increasingly polarised. Participants mirrored the families that they worked with as the interviewees held an inhibited perception of reality and a perpetuation of abuse.