When any organisation is exposed to pressure to change, this not only mobilises considerable anxieties within the organisation but calls a variety of defensive operations into play. The work of Jaques (1955) and Menzies Lyth (1959, 1988) has demonstrated that this can result in the central problem ceasing to be the focus of attention, with primitive defensive mechanisms (often of an obssesional or paranoid kind) being mobilised. This process may either lead to energy being devoted to isolated elements of the situation, or staff withdrawing into a state of passivity and hopelessness. Indeed, Jaques has observed that when changes are imposed on an institution in a way which fails to take account of the functions that existing structures serve in relation to the deeper needs and anxieties of those working within the institution, such changes are likely to be resisted, and may even fail.
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