American journal of psychoanalysis | 12 Sep 2015
After reviewing the pertinent philosophical and psychoanalytic writings on the concept of dignity, this paper proposes three categories of dignity. Conceptualized as phenomenological clusters, heuristic viewpoints, and levels of abstraction, these include (i) metaphysical dignity which extends the concept of dignity beyond the human species to all that exists in this world, (ii) existential dignity which applies to human beings alone and rests upon their inherent capacity for moral transcendence, and (iii) characterological dignity which applies more to some human beings than others since they possess a certain set of personality traits that are developmentally derived. The paper discusses the pros and cons of each category and acknowledges the limitations of such classification. It also discusses the multiple ways in which these concepts impact upon clinical work and concludes with some remarks on the relationship of dignity to choice, narcissism, and suicide.
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