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July 1967

Psychotherapy and Morality: A Study of Two Concepts.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(1):119-120. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730250122018

This book renders a special kind of service to the psychotherapeutic enterprise. One of its chief virtues lies in the clarity with which it reveals how psychotherapeutic models are embedded in the moral substructure of society and culture. The author, an analytical philosopher, makes his contribution through a logical analysis of the language and practice of professional psychotherapists (primarily the dynamic school broadly conceived), some of whom he knew while he was a senior research associate in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati.

His focal interest is to bring the practice and theory of psychotherapy into the arena of the philosophical framework of evaluation. His twofold sensitivity to the psychotherapists' resistance to philosophic "intrusion" and to the theoreticians' pervasive blindness to the value of philosophical principles spur him to note that, when professionals reflect upon their activity, they tend toward philosophical generalization themselves (and thereby become "amateurs," as Waelder1 has so succinctly pointed out). The philosopher offers the function of a Socratic midwife: to clarify the latent philosophical assumptions and moral values within which the professional psychotherapist works by virtue of his relationship to the larger society and culture in which he functions.

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