Rhetoric as remedy: some philosophical antecedents of psychotherapeutic ethics

Robert Spillane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Earliest forms of psychotherapy were based on noble rhetoric and a model of the human encounter regulated by values of virtue and courage (responsible autonomy). In this paper the relationship between noble and base rhetoric and values is considered and applied to the psychotherapeutic setting. Bühler's and Popper's hierarchy of language and values is extended so that the language of expression, communication, description, advice, argument, and promises may be related to noble and base values which, it is argued, therapists and clients invoke to define and condition the therapeutic relationship. An ethical hierarchy of language and values, based on the principle of responsible autonomy, is suggested for psychotherapeutic practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Medical Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1987


Dive into the research topics of 'Rhetoric as remedy: some philosophical antecedents of psychotherapeutic ethics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this