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From Morality to Mental HealthVirtue and Vice in a Therapeutic Culture$
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Mike W. Martin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195304713.001.0001

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Sick Morality

Sick Morality

Freud, Nietzsche, and Guilt

(p.39) 3 Sick Morality
From Morality to Mental Health

Mike W. Martin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on therapeutic critiques of morality. Both Freud and Nietzsche attack traditional morality as unhealthy and sick — as psychologically unrealistic in its demands to care about others, neglectful of human needs for self-affirmation, and the source of needless depression and anxiety. Both identify guilt as the culprit: society generates “the deep sickness” of guilt (bad conscience) and lessens happiness “through the heightening of the sense of guilt.”. In calling for a healthy value perspective, Freud and Nietzsche caution about the excesses of guilt and blame conventional morality, but they underestimate the positive role of guilt. Freud and Nietzsche also call for greater psychological realism in acknowledging predominant needs for self-love and self-assertion, but they fail to acknowledge that psychological realism also implies appreciating human capacities of caring for others. Their one-sided focus on the self, to the neglect of altruism and obligations, illustrates a danger in many therapeutic perspectives.

Keywords:   mental health, Freud, Nietzche, sound morality, moral values

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