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Michels, R. Oldham, J.M. (1983). Value Judgments in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):599-608.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):599-608

Value Judgments in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

Robert Michels, M.D. and John M. Oldham, M.D.

Psychoanalysis studies the content and form of the mental life of individuals, and values are inherently part of the content of mental life. All of the characteristics of human behavior which psychoanalysis has traditionally studied, such as dynamics, ontogenetics, motivation, conflict, and defensive functions contribute to an understanding of value systems. For example, the traditional conflict model of psychodynamically motivated behavior, using the language of structural theory, might focus on an unconscious conflict between the patient's impulses and his superego prohibitions or between his inflated ego ideal and his feelings about his real-life achievements. Such formulations, involving concepts of superego or ego ideal, imply that the patient has internalized value systems of one kind or another. From this perspective, then, there is nothing special or unique about values which sets them apart from other aspects of mental life.

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