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Wallace, E.R. (1995). Psychoanalysis and Ethics. By Ernest Wallwork. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1991, xiii + 344 pp., $35.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:1221-1229.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:1221-1229

Psychoanalysis and Ethics. By Ernest Wallwork. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1991, xiii + 344 pp., $35.00.

Review by:
Edwin R. Wallace

A household name to moral philosophers and clinical ethicists, Ernest Wallwork is both a professional philosopher and a practicing psychoanalyst. This volume ranks with works such as Hartmann's (1960) and Rieff's (1959, 1966) on its topic. However, despite its title, it deals almost exclusively with Freud and ethics. I can only highlight most of Wallwork's book (Parts 2-4), and limit any elaboration and critique to Part 1 (on determinism-free will and morality), where we substantially disagree.

Psychoanalysis and Ethics is parsed into four parts. The first, “Foundational Issues,” consists of separate chapters (Chapters 2-4) on hermeneutics, determinism-free will, and psychic causality and moral responsibility. Part 2, “Psychological Egoism,” comprises four chapters: “Overview of Psychological Egoism” (Chapter 5), “The Pleasure Principle and Psychological Hedonism” (Chapter 6), “Narcissism” (Chapter 7), and “Object Love” (Chapter 8). The third part, “Normative Implications,” contains two chapters—one on the love commandment (Chapter 9), the other on the normative dimensions of psychoanalytic practice (Chapter 10). The fourth and final portion, “Foundations of Ethics in Freudian Theory,” encompasses: “Toward a Psychoanalytically Informed Ethic” (Chapter 11), “How Is Practical Reason Guided? Happiness and the Basic Goods of Life” (Chapter 12), “Normative Principles and Social Theory” (Chapter 13), and the “Conclusion” (Chapter 14).

Wallwork's introduction (Chapter 1) explicates the book's aim: to demonstrate the indispensability of moral philosophical and psychoanalytical perspectives for one another. However, his mutual analysis is complicated by the fact that each side already contains presuppositions and implications generally considered exclusive of the other (Wallace, 1990a, 1992b). Moreover, ethical and epistemological unpacking of psychoanalytic concepts and practices must go hand-in-hand, as Wallwork grasps and pursues.

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