Finding a Place to Stand: Developing Self-Reflective Institutions, Leaders and Citizens (Phoenix Publishing House, 2020) is a new book by a BPSI member, Edward R. Shapiro, MD. 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.
About the Author: Dr. Shapiro was the Medical Director/CEO of the Austen Riggs Center from 1991 – 2011. A board certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, family researcher, and organizational consultant, he is also Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and Principal of the Boswell Group. A Founding Member of the Psychoanalytic Society and Institute of the Berkshires, Dr. Shapiro is a Training and Supervising Analyst. An organizational consultant for over thirty-five years, Dr. Shapiro has consulted with hospitals, mental health clinics, law firms, and family businesses. He has published over fifty articles and book chapters on human and organizational development, family functioning and personality disorders, presenting papers in this country and abroad. His book (with A. W. Carr), Lost in Familiar Places: Creating New Connections between the Individual and Society was published by Yale University Press as was his edited book, The Inner World in the Outer World. A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he is also a Fellow of the A.K. Rice Institute and the American College of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Shapiro has received the Felix and Helene Deutsch Scientific Award from the Boston Psychoanalytic Society, the Research Prize from the Society for Family Therapy and Research, and the Philip Isenberg Teaching Award from McLean Hospital.
Members can borrow this and other books by Dr. Shapiro from the BPSI library.