The Value of Values
An Online Discussion Forum
(organized by
When: Starting April 1st, 2005
Where: Sign up by sending an e-mail to (with the word “subscribe” in the subject line)
Who Should Consider Participating: If you work with organizations and/or individuals as a coach (or therapist), you will find the discussion of value
What It’s About:

We shall ask the question:

How can concern with values bring value to your practice, while also being valuable to your client?

This Discussion Group is an Online forum where organizational consultants, coaches and therapists can discuss the value of theories and methodologies underlying psychodynamically oriented work with organizations and individuals. The goal is to discuss how the values of the client system and the values of the consultant affect our work. This online discussion group will provide a forum where participants can freely discuss issues relating to values, morals and ethics in organizational and coaching work.

We can think of professionals trained in a psychoanalytic methodology as working with the deepest levels of a group’s (or individual’s) processes. Because psychoanalysis works with what is unconscious or unspoken it is perceived as being concerned with all that really and truly drives a group or individual. To the extent that practitioners deal with that which is unspoken and unexpressed, yet which nevertheless exerts a powerful influence on the system, we can say that such professionals are working “in depth”.

This would include those trained in a psychoanalytic perspective, as well as those using some other methodology which involves a consideration in depth of the group dynamics which influence the direction and psychic life of the group. This would include – for example – those trained in structuralist, phenomenological, socio-technical, post-modern perspectives as well as certain professionals calling themselves philosophical counselors.

In the western world, psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis have been influenced by the scientific method. There are certain theorists, academics and practitioners who believe that all theory must be founded in science. Along with this notion, perhaps, goes the belief that we should not allow our own moral and ethical values to intrude into our work, because this would mean we’re not being scientific and rational.

The Value of Values Discussion Group will be a forum where such issues – the relative value of different methodological approaches as well as the place of values in our work – can be discussed.

The forum will begin on March 15 and run for six weeks. Some of the material from this Online Discussion Forum, will be incorporated into a seminar on the psychodynamics in the online world at the ISPSO Symposium in Baltimore in June 2005. So, if you participate you’ll be part of an interesting and dynamic discussion and you’ll be able to share in the findings of this research project at the Symposium.

To join the forum, send an email to: Just place the word “subscribe” in the Subject line. You will receive an email confirmation of your request. Please follow the instructions in that email to join the Discussion Forum. For further information, or for questions, or to submit a case study, please email me at

I shall be presenting a paper detailing some of my research into the psychodynamics in the online world –discussion forums, chat rooms, video chat rooms, IRC spaces, etc – at the ISPSO Symposium in Baltimore in June, 2005. I have been involved with communicating with others over the Internet for more than 15 years. I plan to use some material from this Online Discussion Forum, as part of the material for my seminar. So, if you participate you’ll be part of an interesting and dynamic discussion and you’ll be able to share in the findings of this research project at the Symposium.

Here are a few situations to ponder:

There are examples in the psychological literature of instances where this splitting off of the ethical from the practical creates monstrous results. Think for example of the well-known Stanley Milgram experiment (see and ), where he paid “subjects’ to shock an experimental aide with huge jolts of electricity, all in the name of developing a better method of teaching. This experiment was set up to show how people easily fall prey to authority and authoritarianism, but it could also be read as an example of people throwing their personal values to the winds in the name of helping accomplish a scientific end. For these experimental “subjects”, was the value of helping scientific research more important than observing their own sense of values?
A woman consultant working with a company composed of religious men sees that the women in the organization are undervalued, and underpaid, and wonders if, whether and when she should express her values, entailing fundamental commitment to equality of women.
Einstein spent a great part of his life developing new scientific theories. He signed a letter to President Roosevelt, recommending development of the atomic bomb. However, after the bomb had been developed, and Germany defeated, he recommended to president Truman that the bomb be dropped on a deserted island as a warning to the Japanese. He reasoned they would see what they were up against, and surrender. However, Einstein’s suggestion was ignored, and the bomb dropped on Hiroshima instead. Later, Einstein lamented, that if he could live his life again, he would just want to be a violin player!
In working with a client’s small business, a consultant realizes that the owner/team leader is not accomplishing all he could because employees do not follow the rules he has set up – in term of attendance, quality of work performance, etc. The consultant learns deduces from listening to the client that he (the client) believes in being a “good person”, guided by certain biblical values. The consultant suspects that the client is trying a bit too hard to be liked, and so is not enforcing workplace rules, even where there are gross violations of work rules. He wonders how he can broach the issue with the client: his ideals are admirable, but somehow in conflict with what he needs to achieve in the business.
In a recently published book “Clinical Values: Emotions That Guide Psychoanalytic Treatment”, Sandra Buechler argues that the analyst should attempt to promote values such as kindness, trust, etc. One client comments to her, upon termination of the analysis, that she recalls fondly the day that the analyst (Dr. Buechler) lent her an umbrella, The patient feels this was a critical moment in her analysis.
A psychoanalyst in London is appointed to run an Outpatient facility at a large hospital. The facility is set up to accommodate patients with psychiatric maladies. Soup and sandwiches are provided at lunch time, and various activities are provided for patients amusement. The new analyst (Dr. J.) values the psychoanalytic approach, and decides he is going to run the facility on disciplined psychoanalytic lines. Catering to patients’ dependencies is ultimately not helpful to them. So, the soup and sandwiches are terminated, and patients must attend psychoanalytic groups during the day, where they are expected to gain insight into their pathologies. Soon, there are widespread protests, and Dr. J is accused of being abusive. He is brought up on disciplinary charges (at the same time that his girlfriend’s book which has to do with Fear of Flying, is released – everyone in the hearing room is reading the book.)
Much was made after the last presidential elections in the US of the idea that the Republicans attracted many voters who were concerned with “values”. In this context, the term values was co-opted by the religious right to mean very particular attitudes towards the world, and towards the behavior of others, which were popularized and sanctioned by certain fundamentalist Christian right-wing sects. The implication was that those in the “blue states” somehow did not have good values, or any values at all. The Democrats are now thinking about how they can present the values they stand for in such a way that they can appeal to a wide swath of voters in the United States. Will they change values? Adopt new values? Market their existing values in a new way?
  Please contact Murray Gordon at if you want to contribute a case (or scenario) to the group for discussion.



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