On disappointment: promoting ordinary conversations in extraordinary times

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  • 1 Independent Psycho-socialist Researcher/Consultant; Training Group Analyst of the Institute of Group Analysis (London)and the Irish Group Analytic Society (Dublin); and Lecturer in Organisational Consultancy, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust/University of Essex
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To be disappointed is to be human, to be disappointing is also to be human. This article will invite reflection upon the under-theorised phenomenon of disappointment and its relationship to ‘failure’, to ‘hope’ and perhaps even ‘forgiveness’ (or the lack if it). The central premise is that to engage with ‘disappointment’ in our internal relatedness, and in our interpersonal and social relationships may enable us to re-connect with our own and others’ humanity – and not to do so is to remain stuck, aggrieved, resentful and locked into cycles of reciprocal self- and other-destructive violence and recrimination. The article will seek to explore disappointment as a ‘disturbance of groupishness’ (Bion, 1961, emphasis added), ‘a locationofdisturbance’ (Foulkes, 1948/1983 emphasis added) and a way of structuring the traumatised organisation-in-the-mind (Armstrong, 2005; Scanlon, 2012). The article will conclude with an invitation for psycho-social practitioners to leave our psycho-social retreats (consulting rooms, libraries, classrooms and the like) and, once again, to engage more deliberatively with conversations in ‘public spheres’ (Habermas, 1968).

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  • 1 Independent Psycho-socialist Researcher/Consultant; Training Group Analyst of the Institute of Group Analysis (London)and the Irish Group Analytic Society (Dublin); and Lecturer in Organisational Consultancy, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust/University of Essex

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