Organization of dreams: the dream of organization – dreaming organization

John Desmond (School of Management, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The purpose of this paper is to draw from: Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, citing the Dream of Irma's Injection, to illustrate psychic organization and the relation of psychic to social organization; The Dream of the Failed Dinner Party, to illustrate the inter‐individual context of dreaming; and finally The Dream of the Burning Child, to briefly discuss analogous processes to dreams in relation to the ethics of organization.


The paper consists of a critical conceptual review of literature in the fields of psychoanalysis and organization.


A psychoanalytic focus on dreams acknowledges the importance of the organization of the psyche, highlighting the continuing importance of childhood experience and of repressed desire for adult neurotics. The social organization of the psyche illustrates the importance of understanding that different character types produce different phantasies of organization. It is argued that the inter‐individual context is important to understanding the contagious nature of hysterical desire. Finally, given that traumatic dreams unsettle and destabilize our conscious understanding as good, rational, individual subjects, the paper discusses the analogous roles for dreaming, which might be related to organization ethics.

Practical implications

By highlighting unconscious processes, the psychoanalytic understanding of dreams asks organizational theorists to enquire into material that is withheld from consciousness.


This paper contributes to the understanding of dreams in relation to the organization of the psyche; the relation of psychic organization to social organization; and the inter‐individual context.



Desmond, J. (2013), "Organization of dreams: the dream of organization – dreaming organization", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 654-669.

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