Psychotherapy, Ethics, and Society: Another Kind of Conversation
Ethical issues are the stuff of psychotherapy, and in fact Freud envisaged the process as one in which an unexamined, irrational and oppressive conscience gives way to one more benignly rooted in reason. Therapists endeavour to be non-judgemental, and, indeed, are no more qualified to pass judgement on others than anyone else; do they nevertheless learn anything about ethics from their disciplined listening? This is a very live issue at the moment, faced, as we are, with movements that cause great suffering in the name of religious or moral regeneration. Can psychotherapy throw any light on this terrible paradox, or contribute any ideas as to how we might contain, if not prevent the barbarism it sanctions? Can it offer us any insights into a different, more inclusive kind of ethics, and, if so, can we glean any guidance from it as to how we might further it? These are the questions the book explores, drawing on psychoanalytic thinking on these issues for over a century and illustrated by the author’s work with individuals over the past three decades.
Michael Briant is a member of the Guild of Psychotherapists and an associate member of the Cambridge Society for Psychotherapy. A Cambridge graduate, he worked initially for the British Council, where he was involved, amongst other things, in the peace initiatives represented by the cultural exchange agreements with the former Communist bloc. He left to pursue post-graduate studies at the L.S.E., where he was a pupil of Ernest Gellner and wrote a thesis on psychoanalysis, for which he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1973. Most of his experience as a therapist has been in various parts of the education system – for the last 30 years at Cambridge University and for several individual colleges. For some 15-16 years he also directed a 3-year training programme, a post-graduate diploma, run jointly by the University Counselling Service and the Department of Continuing Education.
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