Psychoanalysis, Classic Social Psychology and Moral Living : Let the Conversation Begin book cover
1st Edition

Psychoanalysis, Classic Social Psychology and Moral Living
Let the Conversation Begin

ISBN 9780367415600
Published December 13, 2019 by Routledge
324 Pages

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Book Description

In Psychoanalysis, Classic Social Psychology and Moral Living: Let the Conversation Begin, Paul Marcus uniquely draws on psychoanalysis and social psychology to examine what affects the ethical decisions people make in their everyday life.

Psychoanalysis traditionally looks at early experiences, concepts and drives which shape how we choose to behave in later life. In contrast, classic social psychology experiments have illustrated how specific situational forces can shape our moral behaviour. In this ground-breaking fusion of psychoanalysis and social psychology, Marcus gives a fresh new perspective to this and demonstrates how, in significant instances, these experimental findings contradict many presumed psychoanalytic ideas and explanations surrounding psychoanalytic moral psychology. Examining classic social psychology experiments, such as Asch’s line judgement studies, Latané and Darley’s bystander studies, Milgram’s obedience studies, Mischel’s Marshmallow Experiment and Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, Marcus pulls together insights and understanding from both disciplines, as well as ethics, to begin a conversation and set out a new understanding of how internal and external factors interact to shape our moral decisions and behaviours.

Marcus has an international reputation for pushing boundaries of psychoanalytic thinking and, with ethics being an increasingly relevant topic in psychoanalysis and our world, this pioneering work is essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, moral philosophy scholars and social psychologists.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Let the Conversation Begin;  Chapter 2: Conformity versus Independence: Asch’s Line Judgement Studies (1951);  Chapter 3: Harmony versus Disharmony between Beliefs and Behavior: Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance (1954);  Chapter 4: Intergroup Conflict versus Cooperation: Sherif’s Robbers Cave Experiment (1954);  Chapter 5: Obedience versus Resistance: Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiments (1961);  Chapter 6: Helping versus Indifference in Emergencies: Latané and Darley’s Bystander Studies (1968);  Chapter 7: Self-Control versus Lack of Self-Control: The Marshmallow Experiment of Walter Mischel (1970);  Chapter 8: Tyranny versus Autonomy: Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment (1971);  Chapter 9: Stereotypes and Underperformance: Steele and Aronson’s Stereotype Threat Studies (1995);  Chapter 10: Sane versus Insane: The Rosenhan or Thud Experiment (1973);  References;  Index

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Paul Marcus is a training and supervisory analyst at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis in New York City and the author/editor of twenty books, including The Psychoanalysis of Overcoming Suffering: Flourishing Despite Pain (Routledge, 2019).


"It's hard to imagine a more needed book today than this searching exploration of the vicissitudes of our moral sense. Freud said that the ‘normal’ person was both more immoral and moral than s/he knew. Paul Marcus combines studies and thought from psychoanalysis and social psychology to illuminate eddies, corners and creative streams of the meaning of morality and links with wisdom. The work opens vistas that combine everyday dilemmas with our deepest hopes and touches what it means to be alive and a human being."
Michael Eigen, The Challenge of Being Human and Dialogues with Michael Eigen: Psyche Singing

"Having taught these ‘mind-blowing’ classic social psychological studies for over thirty years in my sociology courses, I believed just about everything worth saying about them has been said –until I read Paul Marcus's splendid book. His psychoanalytically glossed interpretation of the classics, his finding common ground between experimental social psychology and psychoanalysis, and most importantly, his illumination of the significance of these classics for living a moral life, provide much ‘food for thought’ and, I hope, productive conversation between the disciplines and beyond."
William B. Helmreich, Professor of Sociology and author of The Things They Say Behind Your Back: Stereotypes and the Myths Behind Them 

"Is our behavior shaped by our unconscious internal drives, or demands of the external environment? Or both? Sadly, psychoanalysis and social psychology science (SPS) have remained totally separate paths to understanding human behavior, due to their 180-degree differences in concepts, methods, and outlook. Happily, this new volume by Paul Marcus offers us a long-overdue ‘conversation,’ applying psychoanalytic concepts to nine classic SPS experiments. Dr. Marcus is a distinguished, articulate, and erudite psychoanalyst who invites us to see more than ‘half the picture,’ by offering this book as a valuable opportunity to more fully understand behavior – reconciling the insights of social psychology and psychoanalysis."
Harold Takooshian, PhD, past-President of the American Psychological Association’s divisions of International Psychology and General Psychology