From the Dynamics of Conscience to Contract Psychology

Clinical Theory and Practice in Transition
  • O. Hobart Mowrer


At the outset I should explain how the rather strange sounding expression, “the dynamics of conscience,” will be used in this paper. I shall use it, first of all, to convey the essential aspects of Sigmund Freud’s views concerning the relationship between what he called the superego and the id, ego, and external reality. Then, retaining the same psychic topography as Freud, I shall suggest another, and more fruitful, conception of personality functioning and malfunctioning. Finally, I shall indicate how a further advance can be made, not by entirely rejecting this second conceptual scheme, but by extensively supplementing it with—indeed, one might say, transposing it into—the theory and pragmatics of social contracts, agreements, promises, commitments, explicit or implicit. We then discover that we have here an ethic that is not only without serious scientific or, for that matter, theological, objection in our own culture; once fully understood, it is a social or cultural universal.


Contract Psychology Integrity Group Situation Ethic Contract Violation Moral Absolutism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Hobart Mowrer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IllinoisEvanstonUSA

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