On ethical issues at the foundation of the debate over the goals of psychoanalysis

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Abstract

In this paper the author points to ethical issues that underlie the debate over the nature of the goals of psychoanalysis. While it has been suggested that the lack of consensus and clarity in this debate may be partially explained in terms of opposing attitudes to the importance of therapeutic benefit and variance in core values of analysts and patients, the author shows that these explanations do not fully resolve the ambiguity. The examination of the limitations of the existing explanations points to the value of introducing an ethical dimension. She discusses two ethical issues: the complex nature of the ethical value of self-determination in psychoanalysis, and the ethical status of analytic change. The clarification of these two issues contributes to an understanding both of the inherently controversial nature of the debate over analytic goals, and of the place of ethical considerations in psychoanalytic theory and practice.

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