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Baker, R. (1986). An overview of self-psychology. Free Associations, 1(7):79-86.

(1986). Free Associations, 1(7):79-86

An overview of self-psychology

Ronald Baker

The Future of Psychoanalysis: Essays in Honour of Heinz Kohut, edited by Arnold Goldberg, New York: IUP, 1983, xx + 514 pages, $45.

The papers making up this volume are written by a group of distinguished psychoanalysts whose original intention was to honour Heinz Kohut on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. However, his untimely death in October 1981 prevented this celebration and so the book was published as a memorial and tribute to Kohut's outstanding and seminal contributions to self-psychology.

The authors of the individual chapters are by no means all disciples of Kohut, although they agree to some extent about the impact of his work on modern psychoanalysis. However, the views expressed are both wide-ranging and far-reaching, the writers representing a broad spread of orientations which extend from those who could be described as ‘overboard’ in their commitment to Kohut's self-psychology, through those classical analysts who are keenly critical but thoughtfully constructive, to those who are patently sceptical and in open dissent. So far as this review is concerned, the terms self and self-psychology refer to Kohut's own definition of them as elaborated in his major works (1971, 1977, 1984).

The variety of the presentations makes for certain difficulties in reviewing the work as a whole, since some of the chapters are highly specialized treatises which enter into the field of philosophy of science (Lichtenberg), linguistics from a developmental point of view (Bonnie and Norman Litowitz) and a highly specialized review of linguistics and semantics (Knapp), to which the reviewer cannot do appropriate justice.

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