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Giovacchini, P.L. (1978). Kohut's Restoration of the Self: A Symposium. Psychoanal. Rev., 65(4):617-620.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Review, 65(4):617-620

Kohut's Restoration of the Self: A Symposium

Peter L. Giovacchini, M.D.

When a book has been selected to be a principal topic of discussion for a journal, the reader expects that he will become acquainted with ideas that have achieved monumental importance. Kohut's work has been hailed at least here in Chicago, as a major breakthrough in psychoanalysis, and recently one of his disciples has publicly declared that Kohut and Chicago are the modern equivalents of Freud and Vienna.

No doubt my discussion will differ to a large measure from those of the other discussants and may perhaps be indicative of extreme polarization. Innovations are exciting, and if they help us deal with clinical problems, enthusiastic acceptance is understandable. Rejecting new ideas and clinging to the old is considered reactionary.

I believe, however, that the rejection of new ideas can also be innovative. In my mind Kohut's work has been much too readily accepted without having been critically examined. He makes enticing promises. In The Restoration of the Self, more than in his previous writings, he is going to show us the method that will enable us to treat patients that could not be treated before Kohut. He has a comprehensive conceptual model that puts his technique in a scientific perspective. He will not just show us the way but will also supply us with a developmental psychology that will encompass the earliest primitive ego states (he describes them in terms of the self) and the highest, most structured levels of mental functioning. I will make some brief comments only upon those aspects of his model that are central to his technical principles.

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