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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Apr;1159:63-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04353.x.

Empathic understanding: the foundation of self-psychological psychoanalysis.

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Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis-Psychoanalysis, Newton, Massachusetts 02468, USA.


Empathy is the theoretical and philosophical foundation of self-psychological treatment. By emphasizing empathy as the primary methodology for collecting data about our patients, Kohut subtly, but dramatically, shifted psychoanalysis from Freud's theory-based treatment to a patient-centered treatment in which there is a profound shift in the analyst's listening perspective. This chapter explores the implications of such a shift in our listening perspective for both psychoanalytic treatment and developmental understanding. Using verbatim dialogue from both patient-therapist interactions and parent-child interactions, it delineates empathy's important role in therapeutic healing as well as its growth-promoting functions in a child's development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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