Continuing the discussion - Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change

  • SDickin
  • SDickin's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • I'm a research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a geographer interested in environment health linkages, including how water and sanitation fit within the greater sustainable development agenda.
  • Posts: 66
  • Karma: 4
  • Likes received: 25

Continuing the discussion - Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change

Hi everyone,

For those of you who attended the webinar presentation by Thomas Rieger of Como Consult on 'Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change ' we hope you will continue the discussion in this thread,the questions that came up are below. For those of you who couldn't attend, a video recording is available, and we hope you'll add your comments or questions for Thomas who will answer them here.



Webinar questions and discussion:

Katerina Brandes (TH Cologne, Germany) & Saurabh Sood (Sehgal Foundation, India): How do we identify the introjects? Do you have any concrete methods for the sector? Number two: After we identified and assimilated the introjects that should be kept and the ones that are not needed any more, how do we get rid of them?

Tugrul Yegenaga: How can unification can take place on this subject around the world ?

James Wambua, JKUAT: If members of society can develop disgust against human waste that might motivate diligent action against pollution. Is my thinking true? My struggle is how to increase the commitment of society to get rid of filth and dirt.

Kim Nace: (Moving to a a very basic level- and demnstrating my bias, is the use of diapers and flush toilets a neurotic introjection? In my commuity new parents ar teaching their children through a "elimination communication" to become aware of their bodily cues and removing diapers at a very early stage (6 weeks) to initiate elimiation. Another idea being discussed is teaching children to " give their gifts" framing feaces as a substance which belongs to sois and should return to the earth.

Michelle Schilling: Are there successfully implemented methods to change values towards the sustainable use of faeces? Strategies to emphasize the possible continuous usage? Similar to Kim Nace's "give their gifts"

Walter: how can we explain community led total sanitation tool as a means to build disgust

Kim Nace: I'm curious about other people's thinking around the basic way we frame our relationship to our waste.

Olufemi Aluko: These ideas are excellent ideas that requires policy buy-in to effectively propagate. However, adaptation of the original idea(s), to suit variety of culture and income quantiles is also key to success and sustainablility in less developing country like Nigeria. Feacal sludge management is a big problem in Nigeria, evident from my research in a State which had interviewed ploicy level stakeholders and collected data from 580 household heads accross 3 LGAs.

Kim Nace: I'm not sure that disgust is what we want to aim for - healthy respect and sequestering pathogens is critical - but disgust for our feaces- is it connected with or builds/creates disgust for ourselves and distance from nature.

Christoph Leitner: If I get the essence right here then you could, in other words, say that we should not try to think we can use social engineering to spread allegedly universal behaviour patterns, but should rather actually try to understand local circumstances and build on them, right?

Olufemi Aluko: @ Walter, build disgust where there are viable options is good but disgust building in several locatons in Nigeria do not yield the required result due to multiple environmental and socio-economic determinants

Kim Nace: YES - we want to talk more about disgust especially with CLTS.

---

To continue the discussion, here is a question to start things off: Is disgust something that should be promoted for behaviour change, or are other concepts more effective?

Dr. Sarah Dickin,
Research Fellow
Stockholm Environment Institute
Stockholm, Sweden
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
You need to login to reply
  • JKMakowka
  • JKMakowka's Avatar
  • Just call me Kris :)
  • Posts: 972
  • Karma: 35
  • Likes received: 314

Re: Continuing the discussion - Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change

Not sure if this has been studied, but I personally think for that waste management rather the opposite is true, i.e. if you emphasize disgust you might sensitize people about the topic, but the same time you make them not want to deal with themselves (or even think about) the topic.
So waste management is pushed into small darker corners of society, informal waste collectors etc. with the attached stigma of a person dealing with "something disgusting best not to be associated with". Or in a more developed setting you get the "flush and forget" mindset, with all the "disgusting" problems far away at the end of the sewer pipe.

Thus what might work for low density rural settings (as by CLTS) where all you really need to do is simple containment of feces, might actually be counter-productive in settings that need a more advanced waste management system not hampered too much by staff disgusted by their own work.

Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
You need to login to reply
  • arno
  • arno's Avatar
  • Senior Research Fellow Stockholm Environment Institute
  • Posts: 304
  • Karma: 19
  • Likes received: 172

Re: Continuing the discussion - Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change

Here are the responses by Thomas Rieger to the questions posed during the webinar.

Webinar questions and discussion:

Katerina Brandes (TH Cologne, Germany) & Saurabh Sood (Sehgal Foundation, India): How do we identify the introjects? Do you have any concrete methods for the sector? Number two: After we identified and assimilated the introjects that should be kept and the ones that are not needed any more, how do we get rid of them?

Answer Thomas Rieger:


1. Identification of introjects

As they often make a lot of rational sense („I have to work hard to be successful“, „I need to put duty above personal preferences“ etc.), introjects are not easy to identify even in psycho¬the¬rapeutic work with individuals, let alone when working with organizations. When working with individuals, persitant patterns of self-sabotage (and this is not limited to the narrow set commonly evoked like procrastina¬ting, overeating, people-pleasing, being over-the-top modest and the like, but includes all forms of putting obstacles in one‘s own chosen path, behaviour that interferes with long-term goals or unsettles relationships one would like to keep) usually are reliable pointers to introjects. The self-sabotaging behaviour can be viewed as a covered rebellion against the alien element in the psyche.

On the organizational level, Edgar Schein, one of the pioneers of research into the phenomenon of „organizational culture“ defines the latter as:

A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be con-si¬dered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.
(E. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership 2nd edition, San Francisco, 1992, p. 12)

In his Corporate Culture Survival Guide (San Francisco, 1999, pp 65-68), Schein described an ap-proach how to decipher an organisation’s culture. With a concrete business problem as the point of departure (note the analogy: the suffering that brings an individual to the therapist), he recommends observing artefacts (the first level of organisational culture, easy to observe, hard to decipher, con-sisting of physical and non-physical elements like dress codes, working hours, remuneration systems, ways of decision making, work-life balance, design of office premises, jargon used, rituals etc.) and to compare them with the espoused values of the organisation (to be found in vision/mission/value state¬ments, policies, codes of conduct and other forms of communication by the management). Schein (p. 66) gives the example

...if customer focus is espoused as a value, see what systems of reward or accountability you have identified as artifacts and whether they support customer focus. If they do not, you have identified an area where a deeper tacit assumption [the third and deepest level of organisational culture, also called „basic underlying assumptions“ by Schein; note by TR] is operating and driving the systems. You now have to search for that deeper as¬sump¬tion.

And that „deeper tacit assumption“ is nothing else than the collectively shared introject that members received through their socialization upon joining the organisation (as I tried to demonstrate with the story about Köhler’s chimpanzees).


2. Concrete methods for the sector

I don’t argue for any new method/approach/tool/model and the like here. The community of practice in the waste water sector (in the widest sense) has accumulated an impressive body of knowledge since the late 19th century. However, the phenomenon that we face is widespread resistance to change towards a more effective waste water management (often veiled as support combined with a „but“) – in widely different settings and for a large variety of reasons/motives, although the importance of this topic is lmost universally acknowledged.
But quite probably people do not resist change as such (which is challenging enough if it touches on the deeper level of organisational culture and therefore messes up belief systems and releasing lots of anxiety accordingly), but rather resist the idea of being changed. So the acts of self-sabotage (not ac-ting along the line of the espoused value that treating wastewater is esseential) can be interpreted as a rebellion against something that is cognitively accepted as reasonable (which is the case with a sub-stantial proportion of introjects, both individual and collective), but emotionally resented as something alien.
Helping organisations to get out of this iterative neurotic process demands a change of attitude among the sector professionals: acknowledging that the resistance to change is driven by some sort of ratio¬nality (= that the seemingly dysfunctional pattern of behaviour fulfilled a purpose at least histori-cally), supporting organisations to find their own ways of dealing with their relevant environment, using or not using approaches/methods/tools already at the disposal of the community of practice. Continuing expert consulting with ever new models provides but new introjects and makes organizations ever more neurotic, process consultation helps organizations to become aware of their introjects, to assimi¬late them and to thus find their way of restoring their adaptive capacity.


3. Getting rid of introjects no longer needed

This question points to a misunderstanding that I’m happy to get the opportunity of rectifying here. The „difference that makes a difference“ is not that between those introjects we wish to keep and those we’d like to get rid off, but rather the difference between introjects in the sense of alien elements residing in our psyche on the one hand and ideas that through a process of selection and assimilation we have validated as being part of our Selfs on the other hand.


Tugrul Yegenaga: How can unification can take place on this subject around the world ?

Answer Thomas Rieger:

It should in my opinion be „unification in attitude“, acknowledging the rationality of each sector actor’s course of action, extending help to each actor to get out of the cycles of self-sabotage, to get out of denial and to develop problem solving strategies felt to be their own. (see also my answer to the questions of K. Brandes and S. Sood above).



James Wambua, JKUAT: If members of society can develop disgust against human waste that might motivate diligent action against pollution. Is my thinking true? My struggle is how to increase the commitment of society to get rid of filth and dirt.

Answer Thomas Rieger:

Disgust is – psychologically spaeking – a form of fear. In the case of faeces this fear is obviously rational to the extent that faeces is a carrier of pathogenes. Taking distance from faeces is therefore rational, ignoring it altogether, however, is dysfunctional and in many cases neurotic. Making the difference between consciously taking a distance on the one hand and (sub-conscious) denial is the unifying factor that in my opinion we need.


Kim Nace: (Moving to a a very basic level- and demnstrating my bias, is the use of diapers and flush toilets a neurotic introjection? In my commuity new parents ar teaching their children through a "elimination communication" to become aware of their bodily cues and removing diapers at a very early stage (6 weeks) to initiate elimiation. Another idea being discussed is teaching children to " give their gifts" framing feaces as a substance which belongs to sois and should return to the earth.
Kim Nace: I'm curious about other people's thinking around the basic way we frame our relationship to our waste.
Kim Nace: I'm not sure that disgust is what we want to aim for - healthy respect and sequestering pathogens is critical - but disgust for our feaces- is it connected with or builds/creates disgust for ourselves and distance from nature.


Answer Thomas Rieger:

Whatever norm in inculcated into a small child – e.g. „beware of filthy faeces“ or „love thy body and its products“ – will initially be an introject that later has to be assimilated, i.e. destroyed and its parts being separated into those to be integrated into one’s personality and those to be rejected and expulsed as alien. So it’s not so much about the „what“ (the content of the norm) but rather about the „how“ (how strongly the introjection is disguised as „common sense“ or as the one and only rational thing to do) that matters.




Michelle Schilling: Are there successfully implemented methods to change values towards the sustainable use of faeces? Strategies to emphasize the possible continuous usage? Similar to Kim Nace's "give their gifts"


Answer Thomas Rieger:

I’m quite optimistic, that if we rid ourselves (or: our Selfs) of the introjects pertaining to faeces and thus liberate ourselves from the cycles of restaging the related neurotic processes, we will find little difficulty in applying concepts like sustainable use of faeces.


Walter: how can we explain community led total sanitation tool as a means to build disgust
Kim Nace: YES - we want to talk more about disgust especially with CLTS.


Answer Thomas Rieger:

Sorry, Walter and Kim, I don’t have practical first hand experience with that approach, maybe you’ll find something interesting for you in the answers to the other questions.


Olufemi Aluko: These ideas are excellent ideas that requires policy buy-in to effectively propagate. However, adaptation of the original idea(s), to suit variety of culture and income quantiles is also key to success and sustainablility in less developing country like Nigeria. Feacal sludge management is a big problem in Nigeria, evident from my research in a State which had interviewed ploicy level stakeholders and collected data from 580 household heads accross 3 LGAs.
Olufemi Aluko: @ Walter, build disgust where there are viable options is good but disgust building in several locatons in Nigeria do not yield the required result due to multiple environmental and socio-economic determinants



Answer Thomas Rieger:

D’accord, policy buy-in is required in the sense that institutions are given the opportunity to develop on their own terms rather than being asked for quick fixes which tend to be introjects by nature. Assisting organizations to find their adequate solutions – one of the interesting approaches I’ve come across in the sector recently is the idea of „incremental implementa¬tion“ to reconcile limited ressources with the professional state of the art – is important, not only to avoid self-sabotage. Outright organisational depression – paralysis based on the idea „we can’t make a difference anyway – is another, unfortunately not so uncommon phenomenon.


Christoph Leitner: If I get the essence right here then you could, in other words, say that we should not try to think we can use social engineering to spread allegedly universal behaviour patterns, but should rather actually try to understand local circumstances and build on them, right?

Answer Thomas Rieger:

I couldn’t agree more!



Re: Continuing the discussion - Of Faeces and Icebergs – Sanitation, Organizational Neurosis and Change 23 Jun 2016 04:14 #18314

• JKMakowka
Not sure if this has been studied, but I personally think for that waste management rather the opposite is true, i.e. if you emphasize disgust you might sensitize people about the topic, but the same time you make them not want to deal with themselves (or even think about) the topic.
So waste management is pushed into small darker corners of society, informal waste collectors etc. with the attached stigma of a person dealing with "something disgusting best not to be associated with". Or in a more developed setting you get the "flush and forget" mindset, with all the "disgusting" problems far away at the end of the sewer pipe.

Thus what might work for low density rural settings (as by CLTS) where all you really need to do is simple containment of feces, might actually be counter-productive in settings that need a more advanced waste management system not hampered too much by staff disgusted by their own work.


Answer Thomas Rieger:

I agree, that working on disgust might be required in certain environments, but definitely is not a miracle solution.

Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.sei.org
www.ecosanres.org
Current project affiliation: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127
You need to login to reply
Share this thread:
Recently active users. Who else has been active?
Time to create page: 1.656 seconds