On being an Orphan
- an untold story

On being an Orphan
- an untold story

Celebrating the publication of the Tale of Taviland.


12 March 2018

Celebrating the publication of the Tale of Taviland

Through engaging with the recently catalogued Archive, Eliat Aram, the CEO of the Tavistock Institute, takes a radical stance at redefining those motivated to work in this tradition as ‘Tavistockians’ and sifts through 70+ years of the Tavistock Institute’s work in the areas of care and mental health of children and young people.

We are publishing this monograph ‘On being an Orphan – an untold story’ which was the Keynote Lecture in the Symposium: In the Shadow and Light of the Archive at our 70th Festival in 2017. In her talk, as in this written monograph, Eliat has captivated her audience in taking them through her hypothesis, which is that the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations’ identity as an independent, autonomous, defiant and self-sufficient social science organisation is co-created through and by the work as much as through the untold life journeys of its employees. In other words, the Institute’s identity is full of and alive with an experience of orphanhood and abandonment.

She examines the lived experience of orphanness, being looked after, misplacement and abandonment, through the Tavistock Institute’s work across the decades as well as through conversations with colleagues and reflections from her own experience. This story is a 3-dimensional trip through the history of the Tavistock Institute’s 7 decades: the personal dimension of the employees, the work that they have carried out and events that have happened to the Institute as a whole.

Celebrating being simultaneously both outsider and insider – adopting/adapting oneself, refinding/recreating ways of being and ways of following the quest through the years, the Institute encapsulates apparently contradictory qualities. This is the story of living with and thriving through a void, not ‘just surviving’ it.

Eliat writes:

“You can take ‘orphan’ as an identifier, as a metaphor and as a lived experience.
You can take it as an individual experience, as a group phenomenon and as an organisational culture.
Thinking about what being an orphan might mean to you personally, professionally perhaps; what characteristics an orphan might have and what behaviours an orphan might display”.

Download: On being an Orphan – an untold story by Dr Eliat Aram

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