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ABSTRACT. This paper sets out to investigate the potential impact that organizational policies and practices may have on existential identity. In particular, the intention is to introduce the concept of ontological insecurity as a means to explore the possible links between working life, existential identity and mental health problems. It is argued that many procedures adopted by organizations, including organizational development, surveillance and monitoring, along with pressure towards emotional labour and presenteeism represent direct, often deliberate, attacks on the existential identity of individual employees, which may result in psychosis, particularly among vulnerable employees. Much has been written on the economic and social damage that work related mental health problems can cause, but here we wish to emphasise the ethical aspects of the matter from an existentialist perspective (see Ashman 2006b for a wider discussion of existentialist ethics). pp. 126–147

Keywords: existentialism, identity, insecurity, Laing, mental health, 
organization development, Sartre, surveillance, work-life balance

IAN ASHMAN
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University of Central Lancashire
CAROLINE GIBSON
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University of Central Lancashire

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