Reflection Of Personal Ethics

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Every decision we make in our daily life, more so as potential psychologists, we will refer to our professional and personal ethics. We must understand the connection between both types of ethics and how they influence what decisions we make. According to the textbook, Ethical Dilemmas in Psychotherapy, it is expressed that ethical dilemmas can cause a conflict of interest between professional and personal ethics (Knapp et al., 2015, p. 4). In the following essay, I will be going into detail about the formation of my ethics and what has changed to it as I became the person I am today. Considering all of my professional ethics will be decided by APA, I will only be referring to my personal ethics and values.

During my childhood, my ethical stance was a product of my parent’s teachings and rules, further reinforced by the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. I was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic household where I was taught basic morals, such as not to lie or harm others. It was during this time I was also introduced to the Golden Rule by my parents. The Golden Rule is simply defined as doing unto others what you wish to be done to yourselves (Apresian, R. G., 2002). It was through this widely used term I was taught the meaning of equality. At the end of my childhood, my personal ethics consisted of always being truthful, following the example of the Golden Rule, and to help others. Furthermore, I followed all ethical stances that the Roman Catholic church had, such as the right choice is the one that promotes life.

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During my adolescent years, my ethical position became a hybrid product of my experiences, my parent’s teachings, and my friend’s own ethics. During this time, I started to doubt my parents and the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings concerning lying and treating every person by the standards of the Golden Rule. My moral and ethical compass now included the beliefs that my friends held. These views consisted of lying if the situation warranted it and that the only right choice was defined by what was beneficial for me or caused me the most pleasure. The general population considers adolescents to act less morally conscious than their more mature adult counterparts (Hart, Carlo, 2005). However, my past behavior can be seen as skewed from the majority of adolescents as they statistically value honest in most situations (Perkins, Turiel, 2007). When I was only fifteen years old, my father passed away due to a brain aneurysm which he fought over several months. The tragedy of my father’s death emotionally exhausted my family and me, and when it was all over, I possessed the predisposition that life is too short. Due to this, I concluded that morally acceptable actions were whatever gave me the most pleasure as I now saw life as extremely fragile. This included lying and performing unexpectable societal activities to fulfill my own pleasurable whims. Erratic behavior can be seen as typical for adolescents when losing a parental figure, as they are attempting to process the loss of a large portion of their foundation (Biank, Werner-Lin, 2011). At the end of my adolescence, my personal ethics consisted of doing anything, including lying and performing unacceptable societal actions, if it brought me the most pleasure in a given situation. This included only helping others if it would, in turn, benefit myself. I lost any respect for the ethical stances of the Roman Catholic Church at this time, as I personally blamed them for giving me baseless hope concerning my father.

During my undergraduate education, my ethical stance became a hybrid product of my experiences, my philosophy studies, my parent’s past teachings, and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Those four years were vital in my moral development as I had adequately grieved the passing of my father. From this, I sought out an understanding of why I held my adolescent morals. I made the decision to seek out and reaffirm or replace my ethical stances with ones based on philosophy and logic. When I entered as a freshman, I decided to also minor my psychological studies with classes in philosophy to help find my moral identity. In these classes, I was able to take my childhood beliefs and evolved them to the selfish stances I held in adolescence. I took my adolescent moral position that I should do whatever gave me the most pleasure and developed into the John Stuart Mill version of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism proposed that morality is based on what action creates the most quantifiable happiness for others (Bennett,2017, p. 4-17). This moral view can be seen as questionable and potentially selfish, but in reality, it is dictated by the needs of others, which, by definition, cannot be selfish (Patterson, 2005). Another ethical stance I held was evolved from the teaching I received from my family and the Roman Catholic Church. Those teachings changed into the same standards maintained in the Kantian ethical theory with several exceptions. The Kantian ethical stance proposed that there are specific moral certainties such as treating others as equals and that we “ought” do the right thing in every situation (Johnson et al.,2016). The only exception I held with this ethical theory is that it is okay to lie if it is the only way to bring the most pleasurable conclusion to a conflict. My exceptions are not unheard of when based on one’s ethics on this theory, as shown when Hegelian made his objection to the fundamentals of the Kantian ethical theory (Mills, 2017). Towards the end of my undergraduate education, my personal ethics consisted of doing what created the most quantifiable pleasure for others and myself. Furthermore, while also considering the moral certainties that “ought” to be followed, such as treating everyone equally and holding them to the same standard as myself and Vise-Versa.

Now in my graduate studies, my current ethical stance has become a hybrid product of my experiences, my parent’s teachings, my friend’s ethics, and my philosophical studies. I now hold the moral view that the right choice is the one that brings the most quantitative pleasure with the exception to my personal satisfaction. I believe in my modified Kantian ethical view as it elaborates on the Golden Rule my parents taught me, which promotes equality among all parties. Lastly, I think the right choice is always the one that protects the sanctity of life as I have come to understand how fragile it is. I hope that I will be able to remain faithful to my ethics while following the professional ethics set for me by the APA.


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