Recovery through public works: a psychodynamic perspective on change and complexity at personal, organisational & social levels


Cockersell, P. 2014. Recovery through public works: a psychodynamic perspective on change and complexity at personal, organisational & social levels.
TitleRecovery through public works: a psychodynamic perspective on change and complexity at personal, organisational & social levels
AuthorsCockersell, P.

In this piece I reflect on my public works as a personal recovery journey enacted within and
through organisational development and wider social influence, using my own process as
an illustration or case study.
I use concepts from (principally) business management and leadership, relational
psychoanalysis, interpersonal neurobiology, complexity theory, anthropology and the
recovery movement to examine the processes of personal, organisational and social
change, and how they interact with each other.
I argue that in each of these realms – the personal, the organisational and the social – we
are talking about the interaction of complex adaptive systems, and that we can only
understand and manage these processes by embracing complexity and differentiation.
Simplification leads to a kind of rigidity which diminishes adaptability and resilience, and
reduces creativity and the potential for integration. I argue that this has implications for
practice in the fields of health and social care, which is where I work, and more widely in
any field involving human social or behavioural change. I evidence and illustrate this
through my own evolutionary growth, and through the innovations and developments I have
initiated in the field of homelessness, health, and mental health which I am collectively
calling my public works.
These public works have both formed part of, and been informed by, my personal growth;
for this reason, because change and growth actually take quite a long time, I have
presented a timeline using examples of public works dating from 2000 to the present. I give
26 examples of public works in the text, which do not include all my publications,
conference presentations, workshops etc, which are included in the appendices. The
examples I give are mainly of innovations in practice, because I argue that the internal
change process manifests in changed practice – this is the essence of the concept of
recovery – and changed practice in turn influences the internal change process. It is the hermeneutic enactment of the physical sciences’ hypothetico-deductive model in the social
arena: theory informs activity, observation of the activity evidences or amends theory, which
in turn informs renewed activity.
Following on from this, I argue that taking a psychodynamic conceptualisation influenced by
learning from other disciplines, most notably biology, neurobiology, complexity theory and
the ethos of recovery, has important implications for the development of health and social
care, for us as individuals and more widely for our society as a whole. By seeing the
positive value of change, differentiation and complexity, recognising that these occur within
interactive relationships, and then allowing ourselves to work as positive causes without
trying to control the outcomes, we can create a positive and progressive social dynamic
which will of itself create the positive outcomes we would like to see.
An important component of this, which I highlight, is recognising that dynamic, flexible and
mutually rewarding relationships are vitally important both in the conceptualisation – the
theory integrates ideas from many disciplines – and in the practice, which requires creative
cooperation between multiple practitioners. Integration should not be confused with
homogeneity; rather, I argue that it is more like multiple part-objects dancing together.
Furthermore, I argue that this whole process does not start out there, but within: the key to
beginning to achieve all of this is personal change. Personal change (recovery) is then
enacted through public works.

Publication dates
Print05 Nov 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Nov 2015
Output statusPublished
Doctorate by public works thesis
Institution nameMiddlesex University / Metanoia Institute
Department namePsychology
Permalink -

Restricted files

Accepted author manuscript

  • 14
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as