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J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2005 Winter;53(1):7-22.

The lure of hypocrisy.

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Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, USA.


Why are we susceptible to hypocrisy? Four preconditions for falling prey to hypocrisy are delineated. The reasons for our complex attitude to hypocrisy, both condoning and condemning it, are also explored. Hypocrisy is the false claim to virtue. It always refers to consciously intended deception by a person in a position of trust. Making use of literary examples, the investigation starts with the delineation of three readily apparent preconditions for falling prey to hypocrisy. Idealization of the hypocrite is seen as a defense against a dread of uncertainty on the part of the person who succumbs to hypocrisy. The addition of a third precondition, the force of powerful desire, completes the introduction. A selective review of historical and philosophical studies of hypocrisy over the past twenty-five hundred years situates the problem of the susceptibility to hypocrisy. Application of psychoanalytic formulations and clinical data, principally from the study of patients whose psychoanalysts committed ethical violations, produces a fourth precondition for succumbing to hypocrisy: transference, with a regression from mature trust to a condition of unmodified basic trust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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