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Conscience in psycology.

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Conscience A dictionary definition of a conscience is 'an inner sense that judges one's actions and makes one feel guilty etc', and this definition is accurate. Or is it? Can a conscience be defined so simply? Does the dictionary include a way of understanding a conscience, what lies beneath the 'simple' exterior? During the course of this account, I wish to explore two views that have been taken. A psychoanalyst by the name of Erich Fromm had a rather significant view on what a conscience is. He argued that the development of our conscience was greatly influenced by external authorities such as our parents, teachers and perhaps society in general. He stated that these external authorities eventually become internalised within us as to such an extent that we feel morally responsible to them. ...read more.


The worst offence then being disobedience whilst being submissive may revoke reward or feelings of success. This can lead to dogmatism, which is when orders are accepted without question! Fromm continued to argue that an external authority will make us feel guilty, should we try to be independent or use our own initiative. In conclusion, the basis of an authoritarian conscience is that submissive and obedience behaviour becomes a 'good conscience' (to the authority), whereas independence revokes the notion of guilt which forces you to conform. An alternative interpretation to this view is the humanistic conscience. This basis of this view is that one will fight for freedom and does not comply with an external authority, striving to be their own person and fulfil their full potential. ...read more.


A conscience is not always completely reliable in aiding a person to make moral decisions. As Blaise Pascal once said 'Men never do evil so fully and so happily as when they do it for conscience's sake'. This statement is wholly true and raises important questions. Firstly, can a conscience always be right? I would believe not. Sometimes we act irrationally and end up in tricky situations. We follow our conscience and yet situations sometimes degenerate. Secondly, as Blaise said, if our conscience tells us something is good, but in reality it is evil, then how will that person know? A good example of such an instance is the Holocaust. Hitler believed it was a good action to put into practice ethical cleansing. This however was clearly not the case. Millions died needlessly because Hitler and his comrades' conscience told them it was good. ...read more.

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