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Basch, M.F. (1984). Memorial for Heinz Kohut, M.D. October 31, 1981. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:5-7.
(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:5-7
Memorial for Heinz Kohut, M.D. October 31, 1981
Michael Franz Basch, M.D.
Having been asked to speak for all of us who were privileged to be Heinz Kohut's colleagues in the profession of psychoanalysis, I found it difficult, indeed almost impossible, to avoid seeming hyperbolic when writing my tribute to him, for Heinz was the psychoanalyst par excellence.
When we were students and Heinz was our teacher, his confident, yet unassuming and always courteous demeanor endeared him to us. His devotion to the field, his grasp of its complexities, and his legendary skill at conveying what he had mastered in understandable form, all won our admiration. One needs ideals, Heinz Kohut filled that need for us.
His seemed to be that rare life in which virtue and excellence went neither unsung nor unrewarded. He did not promote himself; he was sought out by both his elders and his peers. Honor upon honor was thrust upon him—locally, nationally, and internationally. The offices to which he was elected and the positions to which he was appointed were not ceremonial ones; invariably he discharged his duties with distinction.
When in middle life his papers on the psychoanalysis of narcissistic personality disorders were first published, they received, literally, worldwide acclaim as analysts found that what he advocated worked where nothing had worked before. Simply put, Kohut demonstrated that the psychoanalytic method had wider application and greater efficacy than anyone, including Freud, had heretofore suspected. But, illustrious as they are, a recital of his accomplishments will not begin to convey what it meant to be Heinz Kohut's colleague.
A short time after I graduated from the Institute Heinz happened to ask me what I was doing, and I mentioned some papers I had written. He said he would like to see them. I sent them to him, of course, but assumed that he had requested my manuscripts only out of politeness; after all, I was but a raw recruit in an army in which he was a general—that he took notice of me at all was encouragement enough. I should have known better.
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