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Mitchell, S.A. (1995). Foreword. Psychoanal. Dial., 5(3):351-352.
    

(1995). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 5(3):351-352

Foreword

Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Self psychology has been among the most influential schools of psychoanalytic thought over the past two decades. The history of self psychology is naturally divisible into two phases: the first decade, from the publication of Kohut's Analysis of the Self in 1971 to Kohut's death in 1981, and the period since. Kohut had collaborators during his lifetime, but they were all clearly his students and worked within his vision. And Kohut's influence, like Freud's, has extended beyond his own lifespan. Like Freudian theory and Kleinian theory, self psychology was initially the creation of a single individual who cast an enormous shadow over the development of that theory after his death. The impact of Kohut, both his ideas and his personality, on the subsequent history of self psychology cannot be overestimated. As Philip Cushman (1995) noted in his recent history and critique of the development of psychotherapy in America, Kohut

was one of those rare, charismatic geniuses so attuned to the age that they speak and the rest of us recognize ourselves in their words. What he spoke about reorganized, or perhaps revolutionized, psychotherapeutic thinking and practice in the last quarter of the century. What he spoke about also related to aspects of the cultural frame of reference as diverse as popular culture, political campaigns, fine literature, and religious cults [pp. 320-321].

What has happened within self psychology since Kohut's death? A single voice has been replaced by a multiplicity of voices in complex relationships to each other.

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