Five Kohutian Postulates: Psychotherapy Theory from an Empathic Perspective

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9780765706348: Five Kohutian Postulates: Psychotherapy Theory from an Empathic Perspective

In comparison with the traditional notion of science as generalizable and predictive knowledge, Five Kohutian Postulates presents psychotherapy as a science of the unique. It uses the philosopher Imre Lakatos' emphasis on research programs that organize around a central postulate and auxiliary postulates to explicate Heinz Kohut's 'self-psychology.' Kohut's psychotherapy theory entails four auxiliary postulates that are interlinked to the central postulate of empathic understanding, and to each other. The main chapters illustrate how these postulates function as orienting stars in theoretical space to foster a firm psychotherapeutic identity, and to concurrently foster the inclusion of complementary ideas from other psychotherapy theories. These chapters also reveal how self-psychology exemplifies Lakatos's idea that the most valuable scientific theory is regenerative. The last chapter points to the need for post-modern psychoanalytic psychotherapy to take seriously the idea of a professional commitment to the patient.

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About the Author:

Ronald R. Lee lectures in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and is an honorary consulting psychologist to St. Vincent Hospital's Mental Health Department. Angie Rountree teaches in the Empathink Summer Schools and conducts psychotherapy in private practice in Melbourne. Sally McMahon teaches in the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and in Empathink Summer Schools.

Review:

Lee and his colleagues propose 'a healing research paradigm' that is built on the foundation of Kohut's major theoretical contributions. The depth and breadth of scholarship is exceptional and the clinical material is clear. This deceptively simple organization of ideas provides a sound scientific basis for evaluating and ultimately improving outcomes in long-term psychotherapy. Given the sometimes strained relationship between the empirically validated treatments (EVT) movement and clinicians in the trenches, especially psychoanalytic practitioners, this book is a very strong answer to the demand for evidence for the effectiveness of treatments other than pharmacologic or uniform protocols. (J. Colby Martin, Argosy University)

Anyone looking for a thorough and comprehensive review of psychoanalytic self psychology need search no further. The authors of Five Kohutian Postulates have clearly combed the literature of self psychology, followed every tributary that might make the principles of self psychology more coherent and relevant, and buttressed their own conclusions with clinical examples that are both interesting and intriguing. Although self psychology has long left behind a single and/or singular set of ideas, Lee, Roundtree, and McMahon allow the reader enough latitude to both agree and disagree so that one can readily grasp how the self psychology of today is a complex gathering of ideas resting upon a set of firm guiding principles presented by these authors. (Arnold Goldberg M.D., Rush University Medical Center)

Five Kohutian Postulates is a different kind of textbook (advanced) on Heinx Kohut's self psychology. Beginning with psychotherapy as a 'science of the unique' and the importance of an empathic perspective, Kohut's theory is presented as a Lakatos-like 'research program' that features four auxiliary postulates (self object experience, supraordinate self-organizing, feelings, and structuralization) around the central postulate (empathy). These postulates help form a psychotherapeutic identity that includes ideas from infant development, philosophy, the neurosciences, and other psychoanalytic theories. (Richard Chessick, Northwestern University)

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