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Self Psychology Syllabus | Print |
Michigan Psychoanalytic Council

Self Psychology
Carol B. Levin, M.D.
Fall, 2010


In this (too) short course, we will sample the vast literature on psychoanalytic self psychology from it’s beginnings in Kohut’s writings, through the writings of the first generation of his students and followers (e.g. Basch, Bacal, Lachmann, Miller, Anna and Paul Ornstein, Tolpin, Lichtenberg, Fosshage, Morrison), and then through some of its transformations into intersubjectivity theory (Stolorow, Atwood, and Brandschaft) and complexity theories (Stolorow, Coburn, Weisel-Barth). My hope is to give you a foundational understanding of the basic concepts of self psychology, for you to understand how it revised and transformed the preeminent theory of its day, ego psychology, and for you to have a sense of how self psychologists think and work clinically. I recommend to you Charles B. Strozier’s seminal 2001 biography of Kohut: Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst (New York: Other Press), although we simply don’t have time to read it. Class participants will select articles to comment on in class from the week’s list! Articles marked with an * are required.   I will email you the readings for the first week, and we will work out how you will obtain the subsequent readings when we meet. Because this reading list is just a sampling, I will develop a list of “Suggestions for Further Reading” and give it to you at the completion of the course.
Week 1: September 13—Introduction: Empathy
and the Contribution of Self Psychology to Psychoanalysis
*Kohut, H. (1981, reprinted 2010) On Empathy. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol.,
5:122-131 (This is Kohut’s last lecture, reprinted from The Search for the
Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1978-1981, Vol. 4, ed. P. H. Ornstein,
Madison, CT: International Universities Press. I will show you a video clip of
Kohut reading from it days before his death.
Lachmann, F. M. (2010) Going home. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 5:144-159.
*Basch, M.F. (1990) Further thoughts on empathic understanding. Progress in Self
Psychology 6:3-10.
Fosshage, J. L. (1995) Self psychology and its contributions to psychoanalysis. Int.
Forum Psychoanal., 4:238-245.

*Kohut, H. (1979). Two analyses of Mr. Z. Int. J. Psychoanal., 60:3-27.

Week 2: September 20—The Self Object Experience
*Lichtenberg, J.D., Lachmann, F., Fosshage, J. L. (1992, paperback 2001) The Selfobject
Experience. In Self and Motivational Systems: Toward a Theory of Psychoanalytic
Technique. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. Chapter 8: pp.122-148.
Bacal, H.A. (1994) The Selfobject relationship in psychoanalytic treatment. In Progress
in Self Psychology, 10:21-30.
*Fosshage, J.L. (1997) Listening/experiencing perspectives and the quest for a

facilitating responsiveness. Progress in Self Psychology 13:33-55.

 Week 3: September 27—Self Psychology and Transference I
*Ornstein, A. (1990) Selfobject transferences and the process of working through.
Progress in Self Psychology, 6:41-58.
*Ornstein, A. (1991) The Dread to repeat: comments on the working through process
In psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:377-398.
*Tolpin, M. (2002) Doing psychoanalysis of normal development: forward edge

transferences. Progress in Self Psychology, 18:167-190.

Week 4: October 4—Self Psychology and Transference II
*Stolorow, R. and Lachmann, F. (1987) Transference—the Organization of Experience.
In R. Stolorow, B. Brandschaft, and Atwood, G. Psychoanalytic Treatment, An
Intersujective Approach. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, pp. 28-46.
*Fosshage, J. L. (1994) Toward a reconceptualization of transference: theoretical and
clinical considerations. Int. J. Psychoanal., 75:265-280.
Ornstein, P.H. and Ornstein, A. (1994) On the conceptualization of clinical facts in

psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psychoanal. 75:977-994.

Week 5: October 11—Vitality and the Restoration of the Self
*Gorney, J. (1998) Twinship, vitality, pleasure. Progress in Self Psychology 14: 85-105.
*Tolpin, M. (1997). Compensatory structures: paths to the restoration of the self.
Progress in Self Psychology 13:3-19.
Ornstein, P.H. (2008) The Stucture and function of unconscious fantasy in the

psychoanalytic treatment process. Psychanal. Inq., 28:206-230.

Week 6: October 18—Self Psychology and Rage and Shame
Kohut, H. (1972) Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage. Psychoanal. St. Child
*Ornstein, P. (1993) Sexuality and aggression in pathogenesis and in the clinical
situation.   Progress in Self Psychology 9:109-125.
*Ornstein, P. (1998) Chronic rage from underground: reflections on its structure and
treatment. Progress in Self Psychology 9:143-157.
*Morrison, A. P. (1994) The Breadth and boundaries of a self-psychological immersion

in shame: a one-and-a-half person perspective. Psychoanal. Dialog. 4:19-35.

Week 7: October 25—Self Psychology and Development
*Tolpin, M. (1978) Self-objects and oedipal objects—a crucial developmental distinction.
Psychoanal. Study of the Child 33:167-184.
*Tolpin, M. (1986) The Self and its selfojects: a different baby. Progress in Self
Psychology 2:115-128.
*Stern, D. (1983). The early development of schemas of self, other, and “self with other”.
In Lichtenberg, J. D. and Kaplan, S. (Eds.), Reflections on Self Psychology.

Hillsdale,NJ: The Analytic Press. Chapter 7: pp. 49-84.

Week 8: November 1–Technique
*Miller, J. (1985) How Kohut actually worked. Progress in Self Psychology, 18:13-40.
*Lichtenberg, J.D., Lachmann, F., and Fosshage, J. L. (1992) The Interpretative
Sequence. In Self and Motivation Systems, Towards a Theory of Technique.
Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. Chapter 7: pp. 96-121.
*Lichtenberg, J.D., Lachmann, F. & Fosshage, J. L. (1996) Ten Principles of
Technique. In The Clinical Exchange: Techniques Derived from Self and
Motivational Systems. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.
Chapter 4: pp. 87-112.
Lichtenberg, J.D. (1999) Listening, understanding, and interpreting: reflections on

complexity. Int. J. Psychoanal. 80:719-737.

Week 9: November 9–Special Topics in Technique
Ornstein, A. and Ornstein, P.H. (2005) Conflict in contemporary clinical work: a self
psychological perspective. Psychoanal. Q., 74: 219-251.
*Ornstein, A. ( 2009)  Do words still matter?  Further comments on the interpretative
process and the theory of change.  Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 4:466-484.
*Teicholz, J.G. (2006) Qualities of engagement and the analyst’s theory. Int. J.
Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 1:47-77.
*Doctors, Shelley R. (2009) Interpretation as a relational process. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self

Psychol. 4:449-465.

Week 10: November 15–Intersubjectivity and Complexity Theories
*Stolorow, R. D. (1997) Dynamic, dyadic, intersubjective systems. Psychoanal.
Psychol. 14:337-346.
*Coburn, W. J. (2002) A World of systems: the role of systemic patterns of experience
in shaping the therapeutic process. Psychanal. Inq., 22: 655-672.
Weisel-Barth, J. (2006) Thinking and writing about complexity theory in the clinical
setting. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 1(4): 365-388.