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Gagnier, T.T. Robertiello, R.C. (1983). Klein and Kohut: Clinical Confluence Despite Theoretical Differences. Psychoanal. Rev., 70(3):373-386.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(3):373-386

Klein and Kohut: Clinical Confluence Despite Theoretical Differences

Terril T. Gagnier and Richard C. Robertiello

Heinz Kohut's work on narcissism, especially his last book The Restoration of the Self (1977) has caused a tremendous furor and a split in the field of psychoanalysis. His thesis that the analyst's most important therapeutic contribution is his empathic-introspective stance and ability to be a good self-object for his patient contrasts markedly with the Freudian view that the analyst's main therapeutic value lies in his neutrality, abstinence, and interpretations. While his last book develops his philosophy or even metapsychology, Kohut's (1971) earlier book, The Analysis of the Self, describes in greater detail what he then called the narcissistic transference but later called the self-object transference. In it, he describes first the relationship between the self and the object as the person develops normally and then how this development is recapitulated in the treatment of a narcissistic personality disorder.

Many have commented on Kohut's tendency to disavow the origins of some of his theoretical conclusions. Our purpose in this paper is not to minimize the originality of his contributions but rather to point out how a coordination of his theories with theories previously postulated by Melanie Klein could give a broader scope to the work of both. As therapists who admire and appreciate the work of both these giants in our field, we have frequently, repeatedly, and consistently found overlaps between their theoretical positions in attempting to apply them to issues which arise in the clinical situation.

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