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Mahler and Kohut: Perspectives on Development, Psychopathology, and Technique

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Original price $57.41
Current price $56.41
Author: Selma Kramer

Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.

ISBN 10: 1568211562
ISBN 13: 978-1568211565

This is the first book to compare, contrast, and integrate the work of two of the most influential figures in modern psychoanalysis: Margaret Mahler and Heinz Kohut. While Kohut (1980) acknowledged that he and Mahler were "digging tunnels from different directions into the same area of the mountain, " the complex task of integration was made difficult by their often divergent clinical perspectives. Yet for both, the issues of self and identity were primary. Mahler mapped out the steps through which a growing child must pass in order to achieve a solid sense of identity. Kohut placed the self in the center of his theory of both personality development and psychopathology. Mahler delineated, in borderline individuals, the lasting effects of failure to establish a stable inner representation of the mother. Kohut traced his narcissistic patients' archaic longings to early failures of parental empathy. Both were concerned with the importance of real object relationships in normal development and the devastating impact of early environmental failure. Both saw the significance of mirroring, empathy, and resilience in development and treatment, and both understood the psychoanalytic situation as embodying a developmental process. There are also significant differences between the two theorists. Mahler drew her conclusions from infant and child observations, Kohut from analytic reconstructions. Mahler maintained allegiance to the classical drive theory, which Kohut repudiated. Mahler's ideas influence technique in heightening sensitivity to nonverbal communications, countertransference, and optimal distance. Kohut's notions influence technique by emphasizing empathic understanding, undoing oftherapeutic disruptions, and reconstruction of traumatizing disappointments in parents. A cross-fertilization between the ideas of Mahler and Kohut was long overdue. This book fills that gap and opens new vistas for understanding and treating individuals with severe character proble