Organizational Diagnosis: Exploring Pain, Aggression and Ego Ideal

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

  • Pain
  • Affection
  • Aggression
  • Dependency
  • Ego Ideal


There are two reasons why one person comes to another for help; either he has some kind of pain (suffering, discomfort, problem) or he is causing someone else to have such pain who is in turn compelling him to do something about that problem (Levinson, 1972). The consultative relationship is essential in diagnosing pain felt both organizationally and individually for if there is no pain felt by either party, no problem actually exists requiring intervention or action. But, if pain is apparent, then the initial questions to ask are:

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price
  • Where is the pain?
  • How long has the pain existed? Has it always been this way?
  • When did changes occur?
  • Are there new forces present to account for pain felt? Is the pain acute? Is it chronic?
  • Is pain being denied when actually felt?

Pain within organizational members and the system causes anxiety which may be difficult to diagnose and manage since the following chain is employed by organizations seeking to deny or repress overt or covert pain:

This philosophy and technique often intensify the pain as individuals experience heightened anxiety when conformity and control are prerequisites to pain reduction. Integrating affection and its symbols into the organizational framework while balancing or neutralizing aggression and dependency is essential in pain reduction. Unresolved attempts to reduce pain emerging from the anxiety, conformity control syndrome leads to a depressed state inhibiting development and growth efforts.


Affection is often symbolized by organizations in the form of compensation, achievement, recognition and other tangible elements for individuals. There appears to be an implied contract at all times between the individual and organization in the form of an inducement’s contributions agreement. Compensation and other elements are perceived and utilized as organizational affection symbols, as a trade-off for individuals yielding contributions in the form of loyalty, efficiency and commitment. Contributions, however, must be balanced by inducements such as income, status and professionalism given by the organization:

Each participant and each group of participants receives from the organization inducements in return for which he makes to the organization contributions. Each participant will continue his participation in an organization only so long as the inducements offered him are as great or greater (measured in terms of his values and in terms of the alternatives open to him) than the contributions he is asked to make (March and Simon, 1958).

The consultants must determine whether affection or its symbolism is rewarded, understood, displaced, contained or redirected. This diagnostic phase of a development effort is necessary since organizations have the power to manipulate affection often causing dissonance within the individual. This state of uncertainty illuminates’ anxieties, control and finally compliance. While organizations follow their own models of affection-rewards, this situation is characteristic of paternalistic systems possessing a benevolent philosophy in which responsibility is felt and assumed for the employee from cradle to grave. A dependency relationship is thus developed where growth and intrinsic development are thwarted.


Organizations are developed and driven to accomplish and achieve. Individuals possess drives needed to satisfy objectives, but these drives are often displaced, misdirected or redirected in which the target and goal is aborted, intensifying frustration and failure. Individual drives which are necessary for organizational goal accomplishment can be funneled into tasks, or displaced, or contained and held onto. However, unless channels are available for displacement or ventilation, drives can be redirected and turned destructively against the individual attempting to understand and cope with them. The internalization of frustrated drives manifests itself within the individual in the form of anger and hostile withdrawal from others. The consultant must balance this uncertain state against developmental programming because anger is dysfunctional.

Anger manifests itself more subtly in the displacement of hostility onto others (Levinson, 1970) causing the suboptimization of development plans. However, anger which is overcontrolled reflects itself in tension, irritability and pain (Levinson, 1970), equally disabling to an organization. Development programs intensify anxiety which should be understood by the individual concerning this uncomfortable, heightened state brought about by new behavioral demands being made upon him/her. Dependency needs can become more acute if the new job is not adequately structured so that a man can continue to have ready access to his superiors, or if the job is not clearly defined, or if the man has not had enough experience to cope with it (Levinson, 1970). Any and all of these situations cause frustration, then anger and finally aggression which seeks outlets to balance understanding and cognizance. Development programs must focus upon this syndrome for realistic outcomes if success is to be realized. It is essential for organizations to recognize and consultants to diagnose the fact that sometimes people have so much difficulty in dealing with their unconscious feelings of anger that the only way they can get rid of them is to hurt themselves in some manner (Levinson, 1970). But, when organizational ventilation systems do not permit the displacement of aggression, individuals not only hurt themselves but also sabotage the organization via low productivity, absenteeism and distorted communications. When organizations seek to control the individual, repressed feelings­ anger-aggressions become destructive when the individual internalizes those drives leaving him/her in a depressed, ineffective and unproductive state, where dual objectives become out of reach.


Argyris (1964) hypothesized that there is a lack of congruency between the needs of individuals aspiring for psychological success and the demands of the formal organization. He further states that the results of this disturbance are frustration, failure, short-time perspective and conflict. The effect of this incongruency is low self­ esteem, but, psychological success if therefore hypothesized to be the mechanism for increasing self-esteem. Argyris (1960) in his classic study hypothesized that individuals:

Tend to develop from a state of dependence upon others as infants to a state of relative independence as adults. Relative independence is the ability to stand on one’s own two feet and simultaneously to acknowledge healthy dependencies.

It is evident that a dilemma exists between the need for the individual to maintain independence and a corresponding organizational need to keep him/her in a dependent position due to needs of control, predictability and conformity. The result is irreconcilable conflict. Dependent positions are uncomfortable and incongruous to successful development efforts by organizations for adult managers. Dependency conditions and feelings experienced at infancy recur in later life in organizations where the same infantile patterns may prevail at adult levels. It is common and normal for individuals to feel uncomfortable when they are dependent on someone else. Some people cannot tolerate accepting favors; others find it difficult to turn to someone else for help, no matter how badly they need it (Levinson, 1970). Therefore, it is essential for the consultant to determine how dependency is handled and supported prior to commencing development programs. Leadership support is an ingredient for program effectiveness as many administrators, due to personality traits, cannot learn (depend) on anyone because of a distorted self-image and inadequate foundation.

If a man feels he cannot do anything about these forces (inadequacy) he stops trying and becomes apathetic . . . becomes dependent on someone else, and being dependent feels childlike . . . to be master of himself and the forces that affect him, a man must continue to grow psycho­ logically (Levinson, 1970).

This situation is often reflected in pseudo-participatory management attempts to develop those individuals who have not been diagnosed and requested to verbalize their expectations and development outcomes. Organizational structures and systems foster dependency relationships by denying personnel access to information and power sources. Paternalism poses a similar problem by showering employees with promises of benefits and then making it clear that gratitude is expected by submission. These behaviors affect the individual and his perception of his/her competence and self-image which lead to the defense mechanism of infantilization. Developmental efforts and psychological success are therefore hypothesized to be the mechanism for increasing self-esteem (Argyris, 1964) which neutralizes dependency:

In order to experience psychological success, three requirements are essential. The individuals must value themselves and aspire to experience an increasing sense of competence . . . The second requirement is an organization that provides opportunities for work where the individual is able to define his immediate goals, define his own paths to these goals, relate these to the goals of the organization, evaluate his own effectiveness, and constantly increase the degree of challenge at work.

Ego Ideal

The ego-ideal as a component of the psychoanalytic model and relationship to development efforts poses a challenge to the consultant (internal or external) in his organizational diagnosis and audit of human resources. A basic dualism exists between the ego­ ideal of the firm and individual since the ego-ideal and self-image are closely related. An organization’s ego-ideal is what it thinks it should be; its self-image is what it thinks it is. The distance between the two is an index of self-esteem (Levinson, 1970). This is a consideration for developmental efforts because individuals whose self­ esteem is easily threatened and/or low, are less likely to be rational about their efforts to satisfy their individual needs and less receptive to organizational development programs. The diagnosis of organizational objectives as being profit, social responsibility or even organizational perpetuation is needed as a blueprint to balance an inquiry into individual needs. The integration of both efforts into a realistic model clearly distinguishes between lucid and/or distorted expectations. Generally distorted perceptions can be dealt with and handled by the consultant within a development program, but distorted expectations pose a different enigmatic problem:

If there is a wide gap between the image he projects and the person, he really is, emotional conflicts are inevitable. The same is true of a business organization: the greater the gap between what an organization pretends to be and what it really is, the more internal conflict there is likely to be. When public posture and reality divide, difficulties will arise (Levinson, 1970).

Frustration is a feeling and not a fact. Therefore, the O.D. consultant legitimizes his role by diagnosing first and later feeding back to those individuals involved within development programs perceptions on how they would like to see themselves as contrasted with how they really do perceive themselves. When this differential is presented openly, distorted expectations and frustrations are illuminated, dealt with, and neutralized. The ego-ideal and development efforts crumble because if people cannot share an ideal, they cannot be psychologically close to each other and cannot sustain a relationship (Levinson, 1970). If organizations are systems composed of interdependent components and interrelationships, goals (ideals) are foundations or models upon which effective efforts must rest.

Get quality help now

Prof Essil

Verified writer

Proficient in: Psychological Theories, Clinical Psychology

4.8 (1570 reviews)
“Really responsive and extremely fast delivery! I have already hired her twice!”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Essay Samples on Topic

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.