17. Self Psychology (Kohut)*** Flashcards Preview

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Which citations should you use for Kohut?

Heinz Kohut, 1984

When mentioning narcissistic rage, if you remember please use 1972.


What is unique about Kohut's contribution?

He conceptualized psychopathology as disorders of the self.

Further, he created the concept of "selfobjects" (1984).


According to Kohut (1984), how does psychopathology form?

It forms as a result of a lack of empathy from the parents, and more specifically, from their failure to provide an environment with mirroring and idealizing selfobjects and transmuting internalizations. This results in a fragile sense of self, decreased self-esteem, and low self-worth.


What do infants need early on (Kohut, 1984)?

A parental environment that provided mirroring and idealization.


What are considered selfobjects?

Parents and other adults in the child's life.


Why does the infant need selfobjects?

The infant is born in a world where others are responsive to it, yet his own sense of self is weak. So, he is looking towards selfobjects to provide a sense of cohesion and constancy for him.


What is mirroring (Kohut, 1984)?

The parent responding to, and reflecting back their child's needs, desires, feelings, etc.


What is idealization (Kohut, 1984)?

A perfect image of the parent that the child can form. The child needs to form an idealized image of at least one parent.


When do children needs to form self objects (Kohut, 1984)?

Early in life, in order to experience a sense of temporary omnipotence.


How will selfobjects let the child down later (Kohut, 1984).

Through transmuting internalization.

The child learns little by little that s/he is not omnipotent and others are not perfect, and that this is okay. This leads to the development of a healthy sense of self.


On which poles could the healthy sense of self occur on (Kohut, 1984)?

Idealizing pole - leads to a healthy sense of ambition and assertiveness

Mirroring pole - a firm sense of values


What are twinship or "alterego" selfobjects?

Having peers around who are like the child, and whom the child can see an image of himself in.


Why do parents fail to provide?

Due to their own pathology. Children often pick up the same pathology as their parents.


Comps example of Jane for reference:

Example: From a Kohutian perspective, Jane may have failed to develop a healthy sense of self. Given the way her mother interacted with her when she was a child (as described above), combined with the fact that she did not have a stable father figure in her life, provide evidence that she did not grow up in an empathic environment where her self-development was able to flourish.


What is narcissistic rage, and when did Kohut talk about it?


A term used to describe what Freud (1939) called narcissistic wounds or injuries. It can manifest as aloofness, irritation, annoyance, or even violence.


How does Kohut differ from Freud?

He emphasizes empathy over sexual drives to explain human development and psychoanalytic change.


What is healthy narcissism?

The appearance of a strong, vital, cohesive self-striving with ambition and ideal toward the full realization of a person's skills and talents.


What is narcissism?

The appearance of a weak, vulnerable self that is attempting to maintain self-cohesion and better self-esteem.


______ within in the empathic ambience of the consulting room can eventually develop into the analyses of selfobject transferences.

Free association

Disruptions in this ambience are analyzed as empathic failures of the analyst and must result in a restoration of the empathic ambience in order for the analysis to proceed.

Repetitions of this disruption-restoration process allow a person’s sense of self to change and develop in fundamental ways and define the psychoanalytic process.


This is closer to Freud's _____ model than Freud's ____ model.

Deficit model

Conflict model


According to Kohut (1984), how does depression develop?

Depression results due to empathic failures early in life (lack of self-object mirroring and idealization transference).

These failures lead to low self-esteem regulation and fragmentation of self. Failures in transmuting internalizations of love objects lead to less cohesion of the self.

Failure in transmuting idealization: the gradual process of tolerating frustrations and internalizing the parental features of self-regulation necessary for maintenance of self-esteem and healthy sense of self, therefore there will be difficultly self-soothing and managing painful affect.