The Mystery of Goodness and the Positive Moral Consequences of Psychotherapy

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In a society that oscillates wildly between extremes of moralizing and corruption, how do we define, much less foster, "goodness"?
Mary Nicholas, in this engaging and provocative book, explores the relationship between psychotherapy and the enhancement of goodness. The book explores not only the morality of clients, but also the moral role of the therapist and how this is shaped by specific biases toward amorality, which are inherent in Western culture and science. Nicholas believes that therapy can have positive moral results, from loving more and better to the search for truth and the pursuit of life over death, as well as mutuality in personal relationships and the larger community. Each chapter contains lively clinical anecdotes from individual, couples, and group therapy to illustrate the points made. Attention is paid throughout the book to how moral issues can be addressed in therapy without shaming the client.

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Editorial Reviews

The author explores the relationship between psychotherapy and the enhancement of goodness. Under the premise that psychotherapy frequently strives for moral neutrality, Nicholas proposes some changes to the process that will enhance the moral role of the therapist, a role she believes is implicit but often neglected in the therapy relationship. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393701661
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 765,089
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: On the Trail of Goodness
Sect. 1 Mixing Apples and Oranges: Reconciling Goodness With Psychology and Psychotherapy 1
1 Whatever Happened to Goodness? 3
2 "Virtues" in Personality Assessment and Psychotherapy 16
Sect. 2 The History of Goodness 37
3 Amoral Biases in Psychology and Psychotherapy 39
4 More Amoral Biases: Darwinism and Individualism 49
5 Moral Sensitivity and Moral Action 75
6 The Development of Moral Reasoning 96
7 Psychoanalytic Perspectives on How We Become Good 120
Sect. 3 From Demoralization to "Remoralization" Through Psychotherapy 141
8 Shame, Guilt, Apology, and Forgiveness 143
9 Ethical Failures in Depression 167
10 Addictions, Codependency, and the Problem of Hubris 177
11 The Moral Complexity of the Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders 191
12 How Therapy Fosters Goodness 204
References 227
Index 237
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