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Wolf, A. Schwartz, E.K. (1959). Psychoanalysis in Groups: The Role of Values. Am. J. Psychoanal., 19(1):37-52.

(1959). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 19(1):37-52

Psychoanalysis in Groups: The Role of Values

Alexander Wolf, M.D. and Emanuel K. Schwartz, Ph.D., DSSC

the growing awareness that the analyst, too, is human and the increasing emphasis on his personality, his values, and his strengths and weaknesses, are characteristic of the recent period in the history of psychoanalysis. There was a time when the therapist was not supposed to have or to express values, when the emergence of values in therapy was viewed as anti-therapeutic. In itself, such an attitude is a reflection of values.

As we see it, all people, including patients and analysts, have values. Part of our task is to make explicit the values which often remain implicit. We are presenting a philosophic paper based on clinical experience. We are raising a large number of questions about which we have done some thinking.

What do we mean by values? A value is that which is good. The word good is synonymous with values. By good is meant ethical. So when we say values, we are speaking about what we believe is good. In psychologic terms, values are long-range attitudes, convictions, wishes, hopes, dreams, faith. They are what we hold near and dear and good. These are values; the principles we live and die for, so to speak.

Values, then, lie largely in the realm of ethics and ethical behavior. They have to do with attitudes, motivations, and convictions, with real and fancied choices. They are primarily social in scope and application. Their sphere lies in all human conduct in which significant alternatives are available. A choice must exist, and we choose one mode of behavior as better when compared with another. Values are always hierarchically integrated; that is, they are related in terms of a greater or lesser degree of desirability. Without choice there is no value judgment. What determines one's choice is the sense of values. This is what we mean by values.

Some therapists, for example, hold as good what we would hold as bad; and we hold as good what others do not believe is valuable. Some do not believe that the very fact that you are part of a group is good.

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