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Lytton, S.M. (1983). A Brief Historical Survey on the Influence of Value Judgments on Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):573-576.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):573-576

A Brief Historical Survey on the Influence of Value Judgments on Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

Sidney M. Lytton, M.D.

Perhaps because freud, and later Hartmann, expressed the opinion that values lie outside the scientific interest of psychoanalysts, values and value judgments have been subject to relatively little scrutiny until recent years. Despite those authoritative proscriptions, interest in the subject has nonetheless persisted. The reasons for maintaining this interest can only be guessed at. Some concepts such as Hartmann's “average expectable environment” have come under serious question. Another contributing factor might be the widening of the scope of psychoanalysis to include treatment of borderline cases, homosexuals, and delinquents. In these patients, conflicts involving values often come more to the fore than in the relatively homogeneous patient population of earlier times. Furthermore, where psychoanalysis interfaces with other fields, value issues have been highlighted. What has been the impact of psychoanalytic theory on sexual practices, child rearing, adoption, criminal law? Sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers question values they see as implicit and explicit in psychoanalytic theory. The questions raised in the other social sciences force their way back into the analytic field (see Erikson, for example, and Mead and Ricoeur).

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