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Shaw, D. Fosshage, J.L. (2003). Contemporary Self Psychology: An Interview with James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.. Psychoanal. Perspect., 1(1):55-66.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 1(1):55-66

Contemporary Self Psychology: An Interview with James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.

Daniel Shaw, C.S.W. and James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.

DS: Your paper, Jim, summarizes the state of the art of contemporary psychoanalytic thinking today. While your own work is most closely associated with psychoanalytic self psychology, your paper acknowledges the contributions of theorists from various psychoanalytic schools. As the president-elect of the International Self Psychology Council, you are. I think, in an excellent position to tell our readers about the current state of self psychology, how self psychology is influenced by and is influencing the psychoanalytic community at large.

JF: I think self psychology is very much alive and well today. As you know, we have annual conferences, which are always attended by five to seven hundred people. There is a great deal of interest in self psychology, and I think the contemporary contributions to self psychology make it a much stronger theory. Overall, I consider it to be one of the major relational approaches (using relational as a broad category), along with object relations, interpersonal, intersubjectivity, and the American Relational (designated with a capital “R”) theories.

How self psychology is influenced by and influencing the larger psychoanalytic community is a very difficult and complex question, and I would refer your readers to my article entitled “Contextualizing Self Psychology and Relational Psychoanalysis: Bi-directional Influence and Proposed Synthesis,” which will be published in the July issue of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. In the article, I go into detail on the concepts of listening and experiencing perspectives, the concept of “self,” and therapeutic action, specifically theories of change and the analyst's participation.

Overall, self psychology significantly contributed to the placement of the individual's subjectivity at center stage, a placement that traditionally was so often usurped by the analyst's subjectivity. In addition, self psychology contributed to a more open human interaction that makes psychoanalytic treatment more inviting (for both participants) and effective.

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