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Sebek, M. (2002). Some critical notes on Solomon's paper ‘The ethical attitude: A bridge between psychoanalysis and analytical psychology’. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(2):195-201.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(2):195-201

Some critical notes on Solomon's paper ‘The ethical attitude: A bridge between psychoanalysis and analytical psychology’

Michael Sebek, Ph.D.

The ethical attitude studied from different perspectives as Solomon did is one of the most central questions psychoanalysis and analytical psychology have to deal with. Are ethical codes and principles used in psychoanalytic work just an addendum to the therapist's work, or is the ethical attitude a crucial part of the therapeutic relationship? In other words, can we derive the ethical guidelines from our psychoanalytic theories? Solomon says ‘yes’, but it does not seem to be easy in real practice as she shows in her example of fraudulent money from the supervisee. In fact, I read this paper with much curiosity and also with some impatience to find in this mostly theoretical paper some concrete example of the ethical dilemma. I was surprised by her example and I will return to it later.

Ethics is always about what is correct. And that is the question. Is there one Truth, or are there many truths (Samuels 2000)? Are we deriving ethics from authoritarian discourse or from a more democratic one? Was Jung right in his view of the teleological unfolding of the ethical nature of the self? Or is it rather that the capacity to develop a superego can only be fulfilled by all possible ethical ‘content’ our civilization has created through its development? Freud (1933) thought there was no ‘natural’ ethics, which derives from human nature itself. But the journey beyond Freud shows that theories of object relations at least created specific ethics, which it is not possible to derive from other theoretical or philosophical systems (Hinshelwood 2000). Hinshelwood points out that ‘object-relations theories do not necessarily, and simply, reconfirm the pre-eminence of autonomy as the priority principle in ethics’ since Mill (1859, see Hinshelwood 2000). For example, ‘autonomy and dependence are not contradictory’. There are mature forms of dependence, which Winnicott called ‘interdependence’, and which does not exclude autonomy, but makes it more complex and less static. Because object-relations ethics are derived from observations, they could be ‘a naturalized form of ethics’.

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