Friendship of Virtue—The Place of True Friends in the Psychotherapeutic Process

Noga Guggenheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper offers a new take on friendship, its specific qualities, how it is subjectively experienced and changes over the course of a patient’s life and how it might serve as catalyst for positive change in the therapeutic process. The premise is based on the Aristotelian definition of friendship as a friendship of virtue, as well as on insights stemming from intersubjective thinking, and observations about horizontal relationships in contemporary psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. A review of the scant psychodynamic and psychoanalytic literature on friendship is presented and the author notes its marginal place in the lexicon compared with other more extensively studied relationships. Three clinical cases are presented to illustrate the potential of “friendships of virtue” as paths toward positive transformation in the course of treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-109
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychoanalysis
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2023
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.


  • Aristotle
  • friendship
  • horizontal relationships
  • psychotherapy


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