The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders Reprint Edition
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About the Author
Heinz Kohut (1913–81) was professorial lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Chicago and president of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is the author of many books, including How Does Analysis Cure? and The Curve of Life, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Everyone matures with normal (1) positive self-esteem and self confidence and (2) admiration for others and the ability for enthusiasm. (Adults)
Narcissistic personality disorders are less mature states. (1) Attitudes to the self reveal solipsistic claims for attention, grandiosity, and hypochondria. Attitudes to others reveal (2) compelling needs to merge with idealized parent imagos, or omnipotent objects with religious feelings and vague awe. (Hollywood)
Psychotic narcissism combines (1) delusional reconstitution of the grandiose self as cold, paranoid grandiosity with (2) delusional reconstitution of the omnipotent other, like powerful persecutors and influencing machines. (Hitler)
The book is for treatment professionals, and so details how narcissistic personality disorders respond to treatment and how therapists handle their own narcissism in the processes. Such patients transfer their idealized concept of themselves ('mirror transference') and of their parents ('idealizing transference') onto the therapist. The therapist's problem is to interpret the patient's grandiose self and his idealized parent images without provoking the patient to resistance by idealizing the therapist or resistances like cold, imperious behavior, affectations, and unrealistic grandiose feats. Interpretations work back through to the patient's early fragmented auto-erotic body-mind self-conscious, hypochondria about physical and mental health; and perverse fantasies and activities.
Narcissistic personality disorders and psychoses are formation of very early childhood. Clinical examples explain, for instance, how a self-absorbed, hypochondriacal, depressed mother early deprives her infant of the attention, approval, and encouragement that infants need to develop positive self-esteem and admiration for others. The mother's narcissistic use of the child results in infantile grandiosity that spits off from repressed demands related to the mother's rejection of the child. 'Splitting' means that the patient is simply not aware of the infantile grandiosity that others see. This is a 'vertical split' in the personality, a condition of total unconsciousness that popular fiction called 'split personality.' But there is also 'horizontal' splitting, or repression. The low self-esteem, thin-skinned propensity to shame, and hypochondria are real conditions of the patient, split off horizontally by repressions, like 'forgotten' memories.
Theoretical content includes an amendment to Sigmund Freud's metapsychology and a dismissal of Melanie Klein's metapsychology. The amendment to Freud is this analysis of splitting into vertical and horizontal dimensions. The dismissal of Klein is a surprising misjudgment of her extensive observations on splitting in terms of protecting introjected object-relations from hostile impulses.
The style of writing is perfect and so turgid but consistent; ponderous but methodological; and respectful of patients but full of the therapist. But the reading is worth it. Three diagrams give clear summaries; and there are both index and bibliography.
This is not hard reading for a person familiar with analytic theory up to the Object Relations level but not for the novice. It is the central book of a series of writings which should be read in order with a basic knowledge of earlier psychoanalytic already mastered.
Find Freuds basic books then read "Freud and Beyond" by Stephen A. Mitchell to get a background knowledge of theory before reading Kohut
But... its worth the workFreud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought
Its hard for some to read Freud first..... just suspend judgment and remember that analytic thought lives in a world of "hypothetical Constructs". Freud would have told you there was no Id, Ego or Superego in the mind BUT people behave "AS IF" there were!!!
So it was justified to speak of these modes of behavior as if they were actual things
This book is not a simple Reading, but certainly will be of interest to those who practice psychoanalysis and are daily faced with the challenges of narcissistic personalities, and are willing to going deeper into the view of a man who fully dedicated himslef to finding means to approach his clinical challenges.