Losses to the organization are likely to be experienced individually as well as collectively . For the same reason, failures of the organization to live up to whatever internalized ideal the individual has for the way that organization should function, is likely to be experienced individually and collectively as a betrayal of trust, a loss of certainty and security, a disheartening collapse of meaning and purpose. Sudden firings or other departures of key personnel, the sudden death of a leader or otherwise influential employee may be experienced as organizationally traumatic. The effects of downsizing, mergers, hostile takeovers, cuts in program funding, changes in roles, increased and burdensome demands of insurance companies all may be experienced as examples of more widespread “chronic disasters” .
Traumatized individuals frequently are subject to “traumatic reenactment”, a compulsive reliving of a traumatic past that is not recognized as repetitive and yet which frequently leads to revictimization experiences. Reenactment is a sign of grief that is not resolved. Instead the trauma and the losses associated with it are experienced over and over relentlessly. An organization that cannot change, that cannot work through loss and move on is likely to develop patterns of reenactment, repeating past failed strategies without recognizing that these strategies may no longer be effective. This can easily lead to organizational patterns that become overtly abusive.
The rigid repetition of the past and the inability to adapt to change may lead to organizational decline and possibly, dissolution. Increases in conflict, secrecy, scapegoating, self-protective behaviors, loss of leader credibility, rigidity, turnover, decreases in morale, diminished innovation, lowered participation, non-prioritized cuts, and reduced long-term planning are common problems associated with periods of decline . All of these behaviors can be seen as inhibitors of organizational learning and adaptation.
Excerpt from Bloom, S. L. (2010). Trauma-organized systems and parallel process. In N. Tehrani (Ed.), Managing Trauma in the Workplace (pp. 139-153). London: Routledge.
For more see: Bloom and Farragher, Destroying Sanctuary: The Crisis in Human Service Delivery Systems
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