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Maroda, K.J. (2002). Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst: Charles B. Strozier, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2001, 495 pp., $35.00.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 19(4):759-766.
(2002). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 19(4):759-766
Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst: Charles B. Strozier, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2001, 495 pp., $35.00.
Review by: Karen J. Maroda, Ph.D.
Charles Strozier begins his biography of Heinz Kohut with a description of what sounds like an almost idyllic European childhood. He came from a well-to-do Jewish family that valued the arts and intellectual endeavors, and he received a broad classical education that included Latin, literature, art, and music. As a youth he frequented museums, could read the Iliad and the Odyssey in the original Greek, and loved the novels of Thomas Mann. He was an only child and his parents adored him. As an adult he wore custom-made shoes and was knowledgeable about fine wine and food. He particularly loved the opera, attending frequently as a child and as an adult. And he was also athletic. Feeling envious yet?
Well, not to worry. Once Strozier finishes convincing the reader that Kohut is, indeed, to be envied, he begins the tale of Kohut's obsessive, crazy mother. She slept with him when his father was off to war. She was obsessed with the quality of his bowel movements. And she did a daily check of his skin throughout his adolescence, popping blackheads whenever they appeared. Feeling nauseous yet?
Strozier engages in a roller-coaster approach to the telling of Kohut's life. Just when you are feeling sorry for him because of what he had to endure with his mother, you are yanked back into idealizing him again. As he graduated from medical school, Kohut fled the Nazis, eventually landing in Chicago and deciding to stay.
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