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Psychoanalytic Business Coaching

Digitization – The longing for social resonance in times of Corona

The corona crisis and the associated requirement for social distancing demands a high degree of flexible adaptation from entrepreneurs, their colleagues and from their employees – not only in terms of working conditions, but also in terms of professional interpersonal relationships. Wherever it is possible or necessary due to quarantine, the office will be moved to their own homes. Both professional and private contacts are reduced to a minimum and both consultations and team meetings are carried out by telephone, e-mail, various digital platforms or messenger.

Digital communication technologies are proving to be very useful tools for adapting working conditions to current circumstances. However, this obvious attractiveness and usefulness is not enough to explain their significance for the user in times of home office and social distance. The deeper reasoning behind the enormous attractiveness of smartphones, notebooks and tablets, as well as their media offerings such as Zoom, Teamviewer, Sykpe, Facetime, GoToMeeting or messengers such as Whats-app or Telegramm are rooted in the inner lives of those who use them. But what makes digital communication media so special for us right now?

“There is no such thing as a baby”

With these words Donald. W. Winnicott expressed the fact that an infant cannot survive without the care and recognition of its mother. It is only with her help that he can create his reality and the ability to be alone. In early development, the child is not yet separated from its mother, the inside is not yet separated from the outside, and the imagination is not yet separated from reality. It is only in the further course that a field of tension, a so-called “potential space”, gradually develops between the mother and her child, in which the infant learns to separate its own self from the mother and to understand itself as a unique individual equipped with certain talents.
In this process of development, the infant discovers so-called “transitional objects”, which belong neither completely to the outer nor the inner world of the infant. The transitional object is usually an object, such as a teddy bear or a security blanket, to which the infant attributes a special meaning and which calms and comforts him when he is separated from his mother. This discovery shows that the infant’s self begins to emerge and an intermediate space is created in which the infant can play, fantasize, dream or even be creative.

“I am seen, therefore I am”

This formula seems to be the key to understanding the special significance and attractiveness of digital communication media for everyday work in times of home office and social distance:

Invited by the new communication media and their digital, interactive stage, as well as driven by our own need for resonance, with their help we turn our own thoughts, feelings, fears and worries as well as desires, needs and dislikes outward and wait eagerly for the response of our colleagues and superiors. Smartphones, tablets and notebooks can also be seen as possible transitional objects in everyday professional dealings that mediate between the self and the external professional reality.

There are currently a lot of examples of this view, which we also know from everyday working from home: Don’t we find ourselves checking our e-mails on our tablet or notebook and increasingly seeking contact with our colleagues, employees and superiors via digital communication media? Don’t we find new creative or playful solutions every day to make social professional isolation bearable by means of digital media and to stay in touch with our colleagues? Don’t we all at the moment feel more and more strongly that we don’t want to go out without our smartphone and don’t we always hope that it will vibrate and we received a message from the office? And don’t we all know the panic that arises right now when we have misplaced our mobile phone, broken our notebook or forgotten our tablet because we can’t stay in touch with our team?

For these phenomena, the psychoanalytical concepts of intersubjective narcissism, a supportive environment and a mirror and resonance relationship between mother and child provide a metapsychological starting point for understanding the immense importance of digital media and their interactive use for our current everyday working lives. Here, digital media take on the function of a mediating transitional object. What at first glance looks like a desire for self-communication secretly holds our hope for environmental resonance. Because only through the resonance of our fellow human beings can we find out who we are. This human need to reassure ourselves in the mirror of the other also allows us to understand why our desire for social visibility and resonance through our colleagues, employees and superiors with the help of digital communication media is so important for us, especially in times of home office and social distance.


Julia Perlinger, Coach at DynaMind

If you are a manager looking for support in the current crisis situation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We also coach with video contact and on the phone.