Theory: Self Psychology

Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2018-19, 2nd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Sue Radant, PhD
Ashley Harmon, MD


Welcome to our course on Self Psychology. Our objective is to co-create with you, a safe and dynamic learning environment. We will be exploring the central foundations of Self Psychology as a theoretical framework, how the theory of Self Psychology informs clinical practice, and applying Self Psychology to contemporary issues which affect all of us each day.  We will read some of the original works by the founder of Self Psychology, Heinz Kohut, as well as scholarly articles by other notable and contemporary Self Psychologists.  Our goal is offer diverse readings that will stimulate curiosity and class discussion.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, the clinical associates will be able to:

  1. List the central concepts of Self Psychology, as originally conceived by Kohut.
  2. Describe and distinguish Kohut’s views on: description and diagnosis of disorders of the self; the“bipolar self” and associated transferences: mirroring, alterego and idealizing; the “vertical and horizontal split”; how analysis cures: transmuting internalization, structure building, and the emergence of the nuclear self
  3. Describe contemporary Self Psychological views on: empathy, empathic failures, optimal frustration, shame, rage and aggression
  4. Apply Self Psychology to contemporary race and cultural issues

January 4, 2019 — Introduction

[55 pages]
  • Kohut, H (1968). The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders – Outline of a Systematic Approach. The Psychoanalytic  Study of the Child, 22: 86-113
  • Wolf, E (1988). Treating the Self. The Guilford Press, New York. Chapter 3, Basic Concepts of Self Psychology, pp.23-49. (Not available on PEP.)

Kohut, H. (1968). The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders—Outline of a Systematic Approach. Psychoanal. St. Child, 23:86-113.

Wolf, E.S. (1988). Ch. 3, “Basic Concepts of Self Psychology” in Treating the Self, pp23-49.

January 11, 2019 — Selfobjects and selfobject transferences

[47 pages]

Kohut, H. (1971) “The Idealizing Transference” in The Analysis of the Self, Ch2, pp37-55

Kohut, H. (1971) “Types of Mirror Transferences: A Classification According to Developmental Considerations” in The Analysis of the Self, Ch5, pp105-132

January 18, 2019 — Disorders of the Self

[24 pages]

Wolf, E. (1994). Varieties of the Disorders of the Self. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 11(2):198-208

Kohut, H. & Wolf, E.S. (1978). The Disorders of the Self and their Treatment: An Outline. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:413-425.

January 25, 2019 — Empathy

[29 pages]

Perlitz, D. (2016). Beyond Kohut: From Empathy to Affection. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. 11:248-262.

Bacal, H. (1995). The Essence of Kohut’s Work and the Progress of Self Psychology. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 5(3): 353-366

February 1, 2019 — The Vertical Split and Horizontal Split

[52 pages]

Goldberg, A. (1999). “Introductory Remarks” in Being of Two Minds, The Vertical Split in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, ch1, pp3-6.

Goldberg, A. (1999). “The Problem” in Being of Two Minds, The Vertical Split in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, ch2, pp7-20.

Goldberg, A. (1999). “The Failure of Synthesis” in Being of Two Minds, The Vertical Split in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, ch3, pp21-42.

Goldberg, A. (1999). “Varieties of the Split” in Being of Two Minds, The Vertical Split in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, ch10, pp139-150.

February 15, 2019 — Treatment

[51 pages]

Kohut, H. (1984). “The Curative Effect of Analysis: The Self Psychological Reassessment of the Therapeutic Process” in How Does Analysis Cure?, Ch6, pp80-110.

Kohut, H. (1984). “The Role of Empathy in Psychoanalytic Cure” in How Does Analysis Cure?, Ch9, pp172-191.

February 22, 2019 — Other Important Concepts

[31 pages]

Strozier, C.B. Strug, D.L. Pinteris, K. Kelley, K. (2017). Heinz Kohut’s Theory of Aggression and Rage. Psychoanal. Psychol., 34(3):361-367.

Tolpin, M. (2002). Chapter 11 Doing Psychoanalysis of Normal Development: Forward Edge Transferences. Progress in Self Psychology, 18:167-190.

March 1, 2019 — Race and Self Psychology

[38 pages]

Phillips , T. (2016). Kohut Memorial Lecture: Race, Place and Selfie. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. 11: 97-114

Manuel, J. (2011). Finding a Compass in an Urban Storm: Toward the Use of a Self Psychological Perspective in Facilitating an African American Adolescent Self-Expression Group. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. 6(1):26-45

March 8, 2019 — Contemporary Cultural Application of Self Psychology

[31 pages]

Feldmann, T.B. Johnson, P.W. (1992). The Selfobject Function of Weapons: A Self Psychology Examination. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 20(4):561-576.

Wolf, E.S. (1997). Self Psychology and the Aging Self Throughout the Life Curve. Ann. Psychoanal., 25:201-215.

March 15, 2019 — Film: “Reflections on Empathy” with comments from Strozier.

March 22, 2019 — Contemporary views on Self Psychology

[17 pages]

Summers, F. (2011). Kohut’s Vision and the Nuclear Program of the Self. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 6(3): 289-305.