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Meissner, W.W. (1983). Values in the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):577-598.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):577-598

Values in the Psychoanalytic Situation

W. W. Meissner, M.D.

Most personality theorists would regard values as holding a central and significant place in the constellation of components that contribute to personality organization and functioning. Most analysts would agree that values exercise a certain dynamic and even directive influence on our behavior and experience. Most psychoanalysts would also agree that, in many cases of neurotic and character pathology, value distortions and value conflicts come to play a significant part. Recently, Gedo (1979) has even gone so far as to propose “…that the personality as a whole is most fruitfully understood as a hierarchy of potentials for actions, i.e., of both organismic and subjective goals, as modified by a system of values” (pp. 11-12). In this sense, most analysts would agree that the value system the individual constructs and according to which he guides his behavior becomes an intrinsic part of his identity as an adult. In addition, the value system serves to integrate a series of complex motivations that are somehow connected with more primitive desires and drive derivatives, but also involves components that may be entirely separate from them (Zinberg, 1967).


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