chapter  4
13 Pages

The evolution of the self: An integration of Winnicott’s and Kohut’s concepts

WithIrene H. Harwood

By integrating Winnicott’s and Kohut’s theories this chapter will help us understand the identity of the self, which is based on both identification (Winnicott, 1960b) and merger (Kohut, 1977). These two men expound complementary views on the emerging self and the caretaking environment. They both agree on the need for an optimally available and responsive human environment in order for an authentic self to evolve. Whereas Winnicott stresses impingements, however, Kohut points to deficiencies in the environment as interfering with the emergence of a true or nuclear self. When the two theories are integrated, the theoretical framework that emerges appears to be more complete and thus more useful than either theory used alone.