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Person, E.S. (1983). The Influence of Values in Psychoanalysis: The Case of Female Psychology. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):623-646.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):623-646

The Influence of Values in Psychoanalysis: The Case of Female Psychology

Ethel S. Person, M.D.

At the heart of the psychoanalytic enterprise is the purpose of examining the ways in which thoughts and behaviors, beliefs, preferences, and values are influenced by unconscious mental processes. Psychoanalysis is a discipline that fosters skepticism about the apparent self-evident meaning of surface phenomena, thereby challenging the certainty of either revealed or objective truth; the first (religion) explicitly, the second (science) implicitly. Like philosophy, it alerts us to the fact that we must look for the underlying values and ideology implicit in any body of knowledge, including psychoanalysis itself.

No cultural enterprise is value free, not even science. Science values “objective” knowledge. That “objectivity” is fundamental to the pursuit of science is seen in the historical fact that science is an achievement of Western culture, not an autonomous development in every culture.

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