Get access

Some Key Features in the Evolution of Self Psychology and Psychoanalysis


Address for correspondence: James L. Fosshage, PhD, Board Director, National Institute for the Psychotherapies – Board of Directors, 250 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019. Voice: 212-765-2578; fax: 212-586-1272.


Psychoanalysis, as every science and its application, has continued to evolve over the past century, especially accelerating over the last 30 years. Self psychology has played a constitutive role in that evolution and has continued to change itself. These movements have been supported and augmented by a wide range of emergent research and theory, especially that of cognitive psychology, infant and attachment research, rapid eye movement and dream research, psychotherapy research, and neuroscience. I present schematically some of what I consider to be the key features of the evolution of self psychology and their interconnection with that of psychoanalysis at large, including the revolutionary paradigm changes, the new epistemology, listening/experiencing perspectives, from narcissism to the development of the self, the new organization model of transference, the new organization model of dreams, and the implicit and explicit dimensions of analytic work. I conclude with a focus on the radical ongoing extension of the analyst's participation in the analytic relationship, using, as an example, the co-creation of analytic love, and providing several brief clinical illustrations. The leading edge question guiding my discussion is “How does analytic change occur?”