MELANIE KLEIN by Hanna Segal

MELANIE KLEIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Melanie Klein's distinguished career as a psychoanalyst of children is sympathetically recounted and thoughtfully evaluated in this addition to the Modern Masters Series. The author, a Polish-born analyst, was a colleague of Klein's who trained at the British Psychoanalytic Society, Klein's intellectual home after leaving Germany in 1926. Klein's significance is very much alive today in play therapy, the analytic technique she developed for working with children. Letting the child manipulate small figures and accessories, or draw at will in a therapy room with child-scaled furnishings, were Klein inventions. Segal traces the development of Klein's ideas, which early on departed from classic Freudian theory in their emphasis on pre-Oedipal development: babies in the first year of life already conceive of object-relations; already begin a fantasy-life that develops into various introjections and projections of idealized or hated figures or part-figures (breast, penis, etc.). At the time she began work, she and Anna Freud were virtually alone in the field of child analysis--and at loggerheads. Anna Freud disputed the early psychic life of infants and opposed Klein's belief that transference was an early and integral part of child analysis. Klein's departure from Berlin was due in part to their disagreement, and in part to the death of Karl Abraham, a beloved mentor who died suddenly in the course of Klein's second analysis. (Her first analysis, an unsatisfactory experience, had been with Ferenczi,) Segal offers biographical glimmerings that illustrate the complex passions that ruled Klein's life--the early death of two siblings, an early failed marriage, the late discovery of Freud, the death of an elder son, the estrangement of her daughter and her daughter's husband, both analysts opposed to her. The brevity of the book inevitably means skimping some of the complex ideas in Freudian and post-Freudian theory. However, ample references--particularly to Klein's day-by-day description of a child analysis--complement the text, which, for all its condensed density, is exemplary.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1980
ISBN: 0761943005
Publisher: Viking