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Meng, H. (1956). Psychoanalysis, Ethics and Worldly Care of the Soul. Am. Imago, 13(4):335-345.

(1956). American Imago, 13(4):335-345

Psychoanalysis, Ethics and Worldly Care of the Soul

Heinrich Meng, M.D.

What is the relationship of psychoanalysis as a treatment method of the natural sciences to ethics? In considering this question we shall disregard all the categories which have their roots in the fields of philosophy. The natural sciences as such cannot determine why man carries within him an ethical must (Sollen), as they cannot know anything about the fact why he needs so much love in order to develop his personality. Natural sciences are concerned with the reality of must and love, much as the physicist is concerned with magnetism and gravity, without knowing their actual essence. Even though we do not know the root causes of the phenomenon of “will” (Wollen) in the human psyche, in the analysis of the neurotic we nevertheless appeal to the pleasure derived from the will to be ethical. In analysis it also becomes evident—much as in childhood and in puberty—how dependent this development of the must and the will are on the attitude of the fellow human beings and of the community. In psychotherapy the polarity between being and must (Sein und Sollen), becomes the driving force of maturing.


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