Finding a Place to Stand: Developing Self-Reflective Institutions, Leaders and Citizens

Published on 
September 2019
Edward R. Shapiro, MD

"What stands between us and authoritarianism seems increasingly fragile. Democratic values and open society can only be preserved if citizens can discover and claim their voices. We access society through our organisations, yet their collective voices and irrationalities do not offer clear pathways for individuals to locate themselves. How can we move through the mounting chaos of our social systems, through our multiple roles in groups and institutions, to find a voice that matters? What kind of perspective will allow institutional leaders to facilitate the discovery of active citizenship and support engagement?

With the assistance of detailed stories, the steps, and conscious and unconscious linkages, from being a family member, to entering outside groups, and to taking up and making sense of institutional roles illuminate the process of claiming the citizen role. With the help of leaders who recognise and utilise the dynamics of social systems, there may yet be hope for us as citizens to use our institutional experiences to discover a place to stand."


‘This is a brilliantly realized treatment of what it means to be a citizen, and how we find our way there through the deeply personal psychological voyage we all must sail–a book that should be on every citizen's nightstand.’

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret); former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO; and former Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

‘This is a book about close listening to and learning from experience, within and across the social frames in which we live, grow, work, and relate. Hugely ambitious, wonderfully accessible, its publication could scarcely be more timely.’

David Armstrong, Associate Consultant, Tavistock Consulting, London

‘A psycho-socio-political tour de force–carefully, steadily, and powerfully building the case for conscious integration of our multiple human identities so that we can learn to coexist and participate as citizens in an increasingly complex and disruptive world.’

John Shattuck, former US Ambassador to the Czech Republic and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

'Ed Shapiro brilliantly extends the study of the individual in context from the parent/child matrix, to the couple, the developing family, the group–a social or work entity–and onto the larger collectives of institutions and political cultures. It is an amazing ride. He is educating us so carefully in the ways that unconscious forces, splitting and conflict, at every level of social organization, impede and shape our individual and social capacities. Read this book as an individual, as a practitioner but above all, as a citizen. A fascinating containing guide in turbulent times.'

Adrienne Harris, Psychoanalyst, New York University