Heinz Kohut : The Making of a Psychoanalyst , by Charles B. Strozier

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Heinz Kohut : The Making of a Psychoanalyst , by Charles B. Strozier (Biography)

            The new biography of Austrian-American psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut (1913-1981), by historian Charles B. Strozier, is the comprehensive story of the birth of the Self Psychology movement. It's also a spotlight on the personality of the movement's founder -- his humanity, his sense of humor, and his obsessions.

            As a student and later a staff member at the esteemed Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Kohut dared to overthrow the orthodoxy of Sigmund Freud and revolutionized psychiatry.

            The Nazi holocaust began only days after Kohut received his medical degree in Vienna. He and his mother fled separately and joined in Chicago. After his internship and residency in Chicago hospitals, he was only beginning his struggle for acceptance in a field where Freud's theory was considered the final word. With the help of a circle of followers, he gradually rose to prominence as one of the leading psychoanalysts in America.

            Kohut is best known for introducing the principle that empathy should be the primary factor in psychoanalysis. Today, for example, when a patient says "That event was painful," and the analyst reflects back "Yes, it hurts when that happens," the doctor is practicing a Kohutian technique. Kohut realized that empathy, looking within another person's mind, is the vicarious form of introspection, looking within one's own mind. Empathy reduces the patients' fear of repressed ideas and their resistance to analysis, so that introspection can proceed. [Pages 144-145] More significantly, the "formalism" in psychoanalysis should be replaced with "humanism." [349]

            Kohut continued to modify his theory throughout his life. By the time he had finished reworking Freud, the old master's concepts of drives and the stratification of the id, ego and superego had been through an epochal revolution.

            I found the first forty pages of the book, covering Kohut's youth, to invoke an average degree of interest for a biography, but the rest of book was suspenseful and I couldn't put it down.

            495 Pages. 19-page 2-column index. Two glossy inserts with 44 black-and-white photographs. 85 pages of the author's notes provided as an appendix. The frontispiece is a facsimile of Kohut's personal shorthand notation. The photo on the jacket shows Kohut working during a visit to Switzerland in 1970.


Heinz Kohut : The Making of a Psychoanalyst , by Charles B. Strozier
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; April 2001 -- ISBN 0-374-16880-6
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Reviewed for crimsonbird.com by Mike Lepore ( Email )

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Note: Analysis of the Self is out of print.

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Site main index :
Book Reviews
 >> Science Books

History and Biographies
 >> Heinz Kohut :
The Making of a Psychoanalyst
,
by Charles B. Strozier
 >> Book Review

Chapter-by-chapter synopsis Preface Book description from the publisher Table of contents See larger cover image
jpg 312x475
Check the price at Amazon.com