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Positioning Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy for Moral Concerns

Positioning Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy for Moral Concerns

(p.11) Chapter Two Positioning Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy for Moral Concerns
Moral Stealth
University of Chicago Press

Psychoanalysis has been variously condemned as an activity intent on undermining morality, as having nothing whatsoever to do with morality, or as itself offering a cogent ethical theory. The first position is represented by Ian Gregory, who argues that Sigmund Freud was committed to a narcissistic position that embraced the thesis that everyone pursues his or her own self-interest. Heinz Hartmann took a slightly different position with his contention that moral evaluations are beyond the analyst's competence and task, and so moral values, when they enter into treatment, must be accorded the same status as any other facts. Ernest Wallwork is equally convinced that Freud, and so too all psychoanalysis, has a moral psychology that “suggests a social ethic in which the individual is committed to social life.” The second group, much supported by many practicing analysts, belong to the “we just work here” contingent and so might claim that analysis may lead to selfish behavior in some patients but may also result in a number of more socially aware and caring persons.

Keywords:   psychoanalysis, morality, Ian Gregory, Sigmund Freud, Heinz Hartmann, Ernest Wallwork, moral psychology, social ethic, patients

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