Heinz Kohut Memorial Lecture. Toward a Level Playing Field
H e i n z Kohut (1959) inaugurated a major conceptual revolution in psychoanalysis with his publication of Introspection, Empathy and Psychoanalysis. By moving empathy from having been merely an ancillary theoretical and technical maneuver into a position of pivotal centrality, Kohut set in motion a series of theoretical and clinical developments that culminated in psychoanalytic self psychology. Many aspects of psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalytic clinical practice were deeply affected by these developments. I shall attempt to demonstrate that the psychoanalyst's analytic spirit, the psychological posture with which a therapist approaches the task of analysis, has undergone a number of subtle but decisive permutations. Specifically, I am pointing to an attitudinal change that has transformed a quasiauthoritarian psychoanalytic milieu into a more egalitarian and empathically sensitive ambience. The roots of these shifts antedate Kohut's emphasis on empathy. It is as if a sea-change of Western sensibility was reflected in psychoanalysis in the theoretical concepts introduced by self psychology and found expression in the alterations of the clinical analytic ambience.