Heinz Kohut

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Heinz Kohut (born May 3, 1913 in Vienna , † October 8, 1981 in Chicago ) was an American psychoanalyst of Austrian origin.


Memorial plaque for Heinz Kohut at the Döblinger grammar school

Heinz Kohut grew up as an only child in a middle-class Viennese family and was tutored by a private tutor until he was ten. Before the First World War, his father Felix Kohut was a pianist and afterwards a wealthy but not very successful businessman. Like his mother Else, geb. Lampl, and his father Kohut was a lifelong music lover. He attended the humanistic high school in Döblinger and also had a tutor at home. The father's Jewish origin and the mother's Catholic religion played no role in the Kohut family. Kohut's most important readings were The Magic Mountain and In Search of Lost Time .

Kohut completed his medical studies at the University of Vienna in 1938 . At that time he was doing a training analysis with August Aichhorn , but had to emigrate to the USA via England after Austria's annexation to the German Empire, where he arrived in March 1940 because of his Jewish origins . Gradually he found himself in the linguistically new environment and worked as a neurologist. From 1948 he underwent a training analysis with Franz Alexander ; Kohut did not publish his first own psychoanalytic work until 1959. He worked in his own practice, was also the organizer of the American Psychoanalytic Society from 1961 to 1973 and for a time Vice President of the International Psychoanalytic Association .

Kohut gave his first lecture, Forms and Transformation of Narcissism, in 1965 and wrote about narcissistic anger in 1972. His theories met with rejection at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute.


Kohut is considered the founder of an independent psychoanalytic tradition. He founded the self-psychological direction of psychoanalysis and thus developed a specific treatment of pathological narcissism or narcissistic disorders . Kohut differentiates between a healthy narcissism as an expression of a strong, viable self that wants to expand its abilities and meet its needs, and a pathological narcissism of a weak self that can only be stabilized through the pretense of one's own grandiosity. If this does not succeed, depression follows . In doing so, he expanded the spectrum of psychoanalytically treatable disorders and created an essential complement to Freud's drive theory and the ego-psychological direction.

The intersubjective school of psychoanalysis developed on the basis of Kohut's work and incorporating the findings of recent research on babies and toddlers .


  • Forms and Transformations of Narcissism. The psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. In: H. Kohut: The future of psychoanalysis. Suhrkamp pocket book science, Frankfurt am Main 1975.
  • Narcissism. A theory of the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. Suhrkamp Taschenbuchwissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main 1976. (am. Orig .: The Analysis of the Self. A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders. International Universities Press, New York 1971)
  • The healing of the self. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main 1979. (am. Orig .: The Restoration of the Self. International Universities Press, Madison CO 1977)
  • How does psychoanalysis heal? suhrkamp taschenbuchwissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main 1989. (am. orig .: How does Analysis cure? The University of Chicago Press, Chicago / London 1984)
  • In Search of the Self: Kohut's Seminars on Self Psychology and Psychotherapy. Pfeiffer, Munich 1993. (am. Orig .: The Kohut Seminars on Self Psychology and Psychotherapy with Adolescents and Young Adults. WW Norton & Company, New York 1987)
  • The Chicago Institute Lectures. The Analytic Press, Hillsdale NJ / London 1996.


  • Ralph J. Butzer: Heinz Kohut for an introduction . Junius, Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-88506-964-4 .
  • Charles B. Strozier: Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst . The Other Press, 2004, ISBN 1-59051-102-6 .
  • The New Theories of Narcissism: Back to Paradise? Published by the Psychoanalytic Seminar Zurich. With an introduction by Fritz Morgenthaler. (= eva pocket book. 18). European Publishing House, 1993, ISBN 3-434-46018-7 .
  • Werner Röder, Herbert A. Strauss (Eds.): Biographisches Handbuch der Deutschensprachigen Emigration nach 1933 / International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945. Vol II, Saur, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-598-10089-2 , pp. 643f.
  • Uwe Henrik Peters : Psychiatry in exile: the emigration of dynamic psychiatry from Germany 1933–1939. Kupka, Düsseldorf 1992, ISBN 3-926567-04-X , pp. 263-277.

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