Moral StealthHow "Correct Behavior" Insinuates Itself into Psychotherapeutic Practice

Moral StealthHow "Correct Behavior" Insinuates Itself into Psychotherapeutic Practice

Arnold Goldberg Goldberg

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226301204

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

A psychiatrist writes a letter to a journal explaining his decision to marry a former patient. Another psychiatrist confides that most of his friends are ex-patients. Both practitioners felt they had to defend their behavior, but the author of this book, a psychoanalyst, could not pinpoint the reason why. What was wrong about the analysts' actions? The author explores and explains that problem of “correct behavior.” He demonstrates that the inflated and official expectations that are part of an analyst's training—that therapists be universally curious, hopeful, kind, and purposeful, for example—are often of less help than simple empathy amid the ambiguous morality of actual patient interactions. Being a good therapist and being a good person, he argues, are not necessarily the same. Drawing on case studies from his own practice and from the experiences of others, as well as on philosophers such as John Dewey, the author breaks new ground and leads the way for therapists to understand the relationship between private morality and clinical practice.