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Bodin, G. (1994). A comparison of concepts in self-psychology and Winnicott's theory of the development of the self. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 17(1):40-58.

(1994). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 17(1):40-58

A comparison of concepts in self-psychology and Winnicott's theory of the development of the self

Gudrun Bodin, Cand, psych

In just a few decades, self-psychology has continually grown, and has become an influential movement. It was a stalemate in psychoanalysis of adult psychoneurotic patients that inspired Kohut to reconsider his diagnosis system and “classical” approach (Wolf 1988: p. 30). Instead of interpreting drive conflicts and resistance against them, he started to investigate the self-experience and found that coherence in the self experience was of central importance. Letting the patients describe how they saw and experienced themselves, Kohut found, was a relief of acute symptoms. From this, he developed a theory of a self-dependence of a self-object matrix, and age-appropriate self-object experiences vital for development of the self.

Kohut started as a productive writer in the mid 60s, developing his theory of self-psychology (Strolzier, 1986). He set out from a classical drivebased psychoanalytic metapsychology and developed self-psychology as an alternative paradigm having the drives replaced by the concept of a supraordinated self (Smith, 1989). Kohut only published a few books, but while developing his theory, he was surrounded by a group of younger, creative colleagues, enthusiastically sharing his ideas. After his death in 1982, this group has continued his work, laboring and clarifying his concepts and theory, and this group has become prominent in the movement of self-psychology.

Self psychologists themselves describe Kohut as “an independent, original thinker, a genius, like Freud” (Wolf, 1988, pp. 13, 23). E.

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