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Holland, R. (1981). Advances in Self Psychology: Edited by Arnold Goldberg, with summarizing reflections by Heinz Kohut. New York: International Universities Press, 1980. Pp. 562.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:493-496.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:493-496

Advances in Self Psychology: Edited by Arnold Goldberg, with summarizing reflections by Heinz Kohut. New York: International Universities Press, 1980. Pp. 562.

Review by:
Ray Holland

Seldom can the term 'advances' have carried quite as much weight as it is called upon to do in this well edited collection of papers from a conference on self psychology held in Chicago in 1978. Although described as an international conference it is clear from the papers that the focus was mostly American and mostly Chicagoan; above all it centred on the work of Heinz Kohut, whose response to the conference in the form of letters and reflections occupies over one hundred pages. Since it was called to explore certain differences of opinion that had arisen within the self psychology group, and in order to answer criticism that it represented a deviation from classical analysis, the conference can be seen as an attempt to affirm, and indeed to celebrate, the coming of age of self psychology—coherent in theory, promising in its clinical and wider applications, a psychology of health rather than of illness, a 'definitive and revitalizing triumph for the humanistic trend in Freudian thought' (Stolorow, p. 165).

Like every theorist before him Kohut was faced with the problem of finding an area of subject matter that he could conceptualize and explore in a relatively new way. At first he was content to use the classical framework of psychoanalytic theory and differentiate within ego, id and superego, 'self-representations (imagoes) of the self'. Gradually as a result of experience with increasing numbers of borderline personalities who, lacking the capacity to form a transference, could not be analysed according to the classical model, Kohut raised self to the status of a supraordinate concept. Self now includes ego, id and superego functions but gives a new and vitally important place to narcissism which 'is not, as Freud … taught, a precursor of object love, to be relinquished and to be supplanted by the latter—it has its own line of development' (Kohut, p. 453).

Narcissism leads to the development of a pattern of relationships between self and selfobjects.

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