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Chessick, R.D. (1990). Learning from Kohut edited by Arnold Goldberg Progress in Self Psychology, Vol. 4. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988, xv + 240 pp., $29.95. Psa. Books, 1(3):349-352.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(3):349-352

Learning from Kohut edited by Arnold Goldberg Progress in Self Psychology, Vol. 4. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1988, xv + 240 pp., $29.95

Review by:
Richard D. Chessick, M.D., Ph.D.

Arnold Goldberg has rendered a signal service to psychiatry and psychoanalysis by his consistently excellent editing and presentation of seminars and symposia on self psychology. This book, like its predecessors, is a gold mine of stimulating information, theories, and controversial points of view. It is not for beginners on the subject; they are best advised to start with the various introductory or explanatory texts on the subject of self psychology by others. This conference, like those held before, is on the cutting edge of the subject, with all the current intellectual lights in the field making their contributions. It is divided into five sections, and I will discuss each section briefly.

The first section deals with personal experiences of two psychoanalysts with Kohut, the first, by Galatzer-Levy, more personal, and the second, by Meyers, more technical. A certain amount of idolatry of Kohut cannot be prevented from creeping in, but this I suppose is to be expected in such reports. I wonder how some New York psychoanalysts would react, for example, to Galatzer-Levy's claim that Kohut was “the master psychoanalyst, the author of brilliant insights, whose theoretical fluency and compassionate understanding pervaded the book I was carefully studying” (p. 3). The book was Kohut's (1971) The Analysis of the Self. At any rate, both of the papers in this section provide an interesting description of how Kohut taught, which certainly will be of historical interest. Included are some hints at how beleaguered self psychologists still feel, and probably rightly so, because they have evolved in a direction quite distinct from the rest of psychoanalysis.


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