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Landau, B.J. (1990). Treating the Self: By Ernest Wolf. New York: The Guilford Press. 1988. Pp. 194.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:361-364.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:361-364

Treating the Self: By Ernest Wolf. New York: The Guilford Press. 1988. Pp. 194.

Review by:
Barry J. Landau

Dr Wolf explains in his preface that he has 'tried to avoid elaborating theory' and instead has accepted 'the main body of psychoanalytic self-psychology as put forth by Heinz Kohut and his colleagues during the last two decades'. This approach has enabled Wolf to write a very succinct and highly readable statement of the self-psychological point of view and how it can be applied to the treatment situation. On the other hand, it also results in his taking as axioms some of the most highly controversial assumptions of self-psychology. The reader is left with a clear impression of what self-psychologists believe to be true. This book is highly useful as an orientation to the self-psychological approach to treatment. Where it falls short, however, is that the reader who does not begin the book already a convinced follower of Kohut and his disciples is likely to remain unconvinced by assertions that disorders based on neurotic conflict are uncommon (p. 24) or that the psychoneuroses are … special variations of the narcissistic personality disorders (p. 69) or that is it 'always the nature of the self-object experience' (my italics), rather than conflict over oedipal competition or sibling rivalry that determine pathological outcomes of childhood experience (p. 79).

This book is divided into two major parts plus two appendices and a glossary of self-psychology terms. Part I, entitled 'The Psychology of the Self', is made up of six chapters and is essentially a review of the major concepts and theoretical assumptions of self-psychology.

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