Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst

The Making of a Psychoanalyst


Publication Date: Apr 17, 2004

538 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $28.00
ISBN: 9781590511022


Heinz Kohut (1913-1981) stood at the center of the twentieth-century psychoanalytic movement. After fleeing his native Vienna when the Nazis took power, he arrived in Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. He became the most creative figure in the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and is now remembered as the founder of ‘self psychology,’ whose emphasis on empathy sought to make Freudian psychoanalysis less neutral.

Kohut’s life invited complexity. He obfuscated his identity as a Jew, negotiated a protean sexuality, and could be surprisingly secretive about his health and other matters. In this biography, Charles Strozier shows Kohut as a paradigmatic figure in American intellectual life: a charismatic man whose ideas embodied the hope and confusions of a country still in turmoil. Inherent in his life and formulated in his work were the core issues of modern America.

The years after World War II were the halcyon days of American psychoanalysis, which thrived as one analyst after another expanded upon Freud’s insights. The gradual erosion of the discipline’s humanism, however, began to trouble clinicians and patients alike. Heinz Kohut took the lead in the creation of the first authentically home-grown psychoanalytic movement. It took an emigre be so distinctly American.

Strozier brings to his telling of Kohut’s life all the tools of a skillful analyst: intelligence, erudition, empathy, contrary insight, and a willingness to look far below the surface.



Excerpt from Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst

“A deeply informed, absorbing biography. . . . Strozier’s book is an exemplary study of a psychoanalyst who threw himself into the task of transforming a major tradition.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This impeccably researched book, written in a clear elegant style that clarifies even complicated ideas carries us along like an exciting novel. Heinz Kohut is a magnificent contribution to the history of psychology, and beyond that, the history of ideas. Strozier has admirably succeeded in his goal of writing a biography that seeks to ‘discover, illuminate, and disclose.'” —Sophie Freud, American Journal of Psychotherapy

“One of the most important American analysts, Kohut became the leader of a less authoritarian and more compassionate school of psychoanalysis known as self-psychology, now a major force in humanizing Freudian theory and practice. The author recounts the gripping, moving, and instructive story of this driven, creative, cultured intellectual, who was much respected as a teacher and therapist but disliked for his arrogance. Healing, music, courage, religion, art, charisma, rage, and death are some of the topics covered in this splendid biography. Too important to leave to professionals, this accessible work is highly recommended for all libraries.” —Library Journal

“This new, definitive biography not only records Kohut’s illustrious career, but gives fresh insights and reflections upon his work.” —Publishers Weekly