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Jessee, S.S. (1995). Classics Revisited: Heinz Kohut's The Analysis of the Self. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:187-195.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:187-195

Classics Revisited: Heinz Kohut's The Analysis of the Self

Salley S. Jessee

Levy introduced the panel by noting that Heinz Kohut's The Analysis of the Self is an important creative work. Since its publication in 1971, a generation of analysts have measured themselves in relation to its major conceptualizations and technical recommendations. For some analysts, the book represents the “beginning of the end of psychoanalysis,” whereas others hail it as the “end of the beginning.” In The Analysis of the Self Kohut outlines his understanding of the psychopathology and psychoanalytic treatment of patients who suffer from profound disturbances in self-esteem regulation. Levy commented that Kohut's detailed clinical description of the analyzable narcissistic patient is the aspect of the book that is today most widely accepted. Another of the book's major contributions is the description of narcissistic patients' selfobject versus true object relatedness. The narcissistic patient has little appreciation of the object as separate, yet there is a capacity for stable narcissistic investment in objects, enabling the patient to form stable transferences in analytic treatment.

In Levy's opinion, the least appreciated of Kohut's theoretical contributions is his attempt to place his understanding of narcissistic characters on a firm metapsychological footing by describing separate lines of development for object-related and narcissistic libido. In The Analysis of the Self Kohut describes the development of narcissism from primary narcissism through the emergence of two archaic structures (the grandiose self and the idealized parental imago) to the development of a realistic sense of self and the maintenance of an ego ideal.

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