Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction


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Work with patients with severe neuroses very often has to cope with the phenomenon that every progress in the analytic or therapeutic work is followed paradoxically by a clinical deterioration. There are a number of dynamic factors that converge to bring about this negative therapeutic reaction, including many-layered guilt and shame, aspects of envy and jealousy, attachment to negative affects, turning trauma from passive to active, conflicts within the superego, and the defensive use of omnipotence of responsibility.

In Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand ,Wurmser, Jarass, and their colleagues consider these and other factors insightfully, such as the extent to which traumatization lives on in self-directed aggressions of the superego in the claim of omnipotence; the significant role of deep conflicts between opposite values and loyalties in bringing about the prohibition of anything "good" and thus of the negative therapeutic reaction in particular and masochism in general; and the extent to which envy, jealousy, and resentment can be encountered in the "inner object," the "inner judge" i.

Search all titles. Search all titles Search all collections. Your Account Logout. Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand. Edition 1st Edition. In the face of declining revenues, shrinking market share, and an increasingly competitive market for undercar services, Sears management attempted to spur the performance of its auto centers by introducing new goals and incentives for employees.

The company increased minimum work quotas and introduced productivity incentives for mechanics. The automotive service advisers were given product-specific sales quotas—sell so many springs, shock absorbers, alignments, or brake jobs per shift—and paid a commission based on sales.

According to advisers, failure to meet quotas could lead to a transfer or a reduction in work hours. Without active management support for ethical practice and mechanisms to detect and check questionable sales methods and poor work, it is not surprising that some employees may have reacted to contextual forces by resorting to exaggeration, carelessness, or even misrepresentation. They also instituted a system of unannounced shopping audits and made plans to expand the internal monitoring of service.

In settling the pending lawsuits, Sears offered coupons to customers who had bought certain auto services between and A number of people in the corporation, it turned out, had doubted the purity of the juice for several years before the CEO arrived. Furthermore, the company lacked an effective quality control system, and a conclusive lab test for juice purity did not yet exist. No one considered the fact that the sale of adulterated or misbranded juice is a legal offense, putting the company and its top management at risk of criminal liability.

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In , the company pleaded guilty to selling adulterated and misbranded juice. Two years and two criminal trials later, the CEO pleaded guilty to ten counts of mislabeling. Such errors of judgment rarely reflect an organizational culture and management philosophy that sets out to harm or deceive. More often, they reveal a culture that is insensitive or indifferent to ethical considerations or one that lacks effective organizational systems.

By the same token, exemplary conduct usually reflects an organizational culture and philosophy that is infused with a sense of responsibility. However, the decision to do a nationwide recall of Tylenol capsules in order to avoid further loss of life from product tampering was in reality not one decision but thousands of decisions made by individuals at all levels of the organization.

Acknowledging the importance of organizational context in ethics does not imply forgiving individual wrongdoers. Acknowledging the importance of organizational context need not imply exculpating individual wrongdoers. To understand all is not to forgive all. The consequences of an ethical lapse can be serious and far-reaching.

Organizations can quickly become entangled in an all-consuming web of legal proceedings. The risk of litigation and liability has increased in the past decade as lawmakers have legislated new civil and criminal offenses, stepped up penalties, and improved support for law enforcement.

Both Sears and Beech-Nut, for instance, struggled to regain consumer trust and market share long after legal proceedings had ended. As more managers have become alerted to the importance of organizational ethics, many have asked their lawyers to develop corporate ethics programs to detect and prevent violations of the law. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines offer a compelling rationale.


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Sanctions such as fines and probation for organizations convicted of wrongdoing can vary dramatically depending both on the degree of management cooperation in reporting and investigating corporate misdeeds and on whether or not the company has implemented a legal compliance program. What size fine is a corporation likely to pay if convicted of a crime? But it also depends on more controllable factors. The most important of these are reporting and accepting responsibility for the crime, cooperating with authorities, and having an effective program in place to prevent and detect unlawful behavior.

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Acme Corporation was charged and convicted of mail fraud. The company systematically charged customers who damaged rented automobiles more than the actual cost of repairs. Acme also billed some customers for the cost of repairs to vehicles for which they were not responsible. Under the sentencing guidelines, however, the results could have been dramatically different.

The following chart shows a possible range of fines for each situation:. What Fine Can Acme Expect? Based on Case No. Such programs tend to emphasize the prevention of unlawful conduct, primarily by increasing surveillance and control and by imposing penalties for wrongdoers.

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While plans vary, the basic framework is outlined in the sentencing guidelines. There is no question of the necessity of a sound, well-articulated strategy for legal compliance in an organization. And even managers who claim to use the law as a guide to ethical behavior often lack more than a rudimentary understanding of complex legal issues. Managers would be mistaken, however, to regard legal compliance as an adequate means for addressing the full range of ethical issues that arise every day. But conduct that is lawful may be highly problematic from an ethical point of view.

The Limits of a Legal Compliance Program

Consider the sale in some countries of hazardous products without appropriate warnings or the purchase of goods from suppliers who operate inhumane sweat-shops in developing countries. Companies engaged in international business often discover that conduct that infringes on recognized standards of human rights and decency is legally permissible in some jurisdictions.


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Legal clearance does not certify the absence of ethical problems in the United States either, as a case at Salomon Brothers illustrates. Four top-level executives failed to take appropriate action when learning of unlawful activities on the government trading desk.

Company lawyers found no law obligating the executives to disclose the improprieties. The executives were forced to resign, having lost the moral authority to lead. A compliance approach to ethics also overemphasizes the threat of detection and punishment in order to channel behavior in lawful directions.

The underlying model for this approach is deterrence theory, which envisions people as rational maximizers of self-interest, responsive to the personal costs and benefits of their choices, yet indifferent to the moral legitimacy of those choices. Tyler shows that obedience to the law is strongly influenced by a belief in its legitimacy and its moral correctness.

People generally feel that they have a strong obligation to obey the law. Discipline is, of course, a necessary part of any ethical system. Justified penalties for the infringement of legitimate norms are fair and appropriate. Some people do need the threat of sanctions. However, an overemphasis on potential sanctions can be superfluous and even counterproductive.

Employees may rebel against programs that stress penalties, particularly if they are designed and imposed without employee involvement or if the standards are vague or unrealistic. Management may talk of mutual trust when unveiling a compliance plan, but employees often receive the message as a warning from on high. Indeed, the more skeptical among them may view compliance programs as nothing more than liability insurance for senior management.

This is not an unreasonable conclusion, considering that compliance programs rarely address the root causes of misconduct. Management may talk of mutual trust when unveiling a compliance plan, but employees often see a warning from on high. Even in the best cases, legal compliance is unlikely to unleash much moral imagination or commitment. The law does not generally seek to inspire human excellence or distinction.

It is no guide for exemplary behavior—or even good practice. Those managers who define ethics as legal compliance are implicitly endorsing a code of moral mediocrity for their organizations. A strategy based on integrity holds organizations to a more robust standard. While compliance is rooted in avoiding legal sanctions, organizational integrity is based on the concept of self-governance in accordance with a set of guiding principles.

The need to obey the law is viewed as a positive aspect of organizational life, rather than an unwelcome constraint imposed by external authorities. An integrity strategy is characterized by a conception of ethics as a driving force of an enterprise. Ethical values shape the search for opportunities, the design of organizational systems, and the decision-making process used by individuals and groups.

They provide a common frame of reference and serve as a unifying force across different functions, lines of business, and employee groups. Organizational ethics helps define what a company is and what it stands for. Many integrity initiatives have structural features common to compliance-based initiatives: a code of conduct, training in relevant areas of law, mechanisms for reporting and investigating potential misconduct, and audits and controls to insure that laws and company standards are being met.

In addition, if suitably designed, an integrity-based initiative can establish a foundation for seeking the legal benefits that are available under the sentencing guidelines should criminal wrongdoing occur. There is no one right integrity strategy. Factors such as management personality, company history, culture, lines of business, and industry regulations must be taken into account when shaping an appropriate set of values and designing an implementation program.

Also by Leon Wurmser

Still, several features are common to efforts that have achieved some success:. Success in creating a climate for responsible and ethically sound behavior requires continuing effort and a considerable investment of time and resources. A glossy code of conduct, a high-ranking ethics officer, a training program, an annual ethics audit—these trappings of an ethics program do not necessarily add up to a responsible, law-abiding organization whose espoused values match its actions.

But an integrity strategy is broader, deeper, and more demanding than a legal compliance initiative. Broader in that it seeks to enable responsible conduct.

Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction
Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction
Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction
Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction
Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand: An Integrative View of the Negative Therapeutic Reaction

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