Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work

Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work

by Phyllis Grosskurth
     
 

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Melanie Klein was a leading figure in psychoanalytic circles from the 1920s until her death in 1960. Parent of object relations theory, she saw the development of children, and of the female in particular, in a way that was both an extension of and a challenge to orthodox Freudian thinking. Now, drawing on a wealth of hitherto unexplored documents as well as extensive… See more details below

Overview

Melanie Klein was a leading figure in psychoanalytic circles from the 1920s until her death in 1960. Parent of object relations theory, she saw the development of children, and of the female in particular, in a way that was both an extension of and a challenge to orthodox Freudian thinking. Now, drawing on a wealth of hitherto unexplored documents as well as extensive interviews with people who knew and worked with Klein, Phyllis Grosskurth has written a superb account of this important, complicated woman and her theories - theories that are still growing in influence both here and abroad. First the author takes us back to turn-of-the-century Vienna and Klein's troubled childhood: her domineering mother, her ineffectual father, her beloved wastrel brother. She shows us Klein's own marriage to a man with whom, she said, she was "up to a point in love," and the birth of her children. We see Klein sinking into depression and then entering analysis with the ebullient, charming Sandor Ferenczi, an intimate of Freud's. Under his guidance, Klein begins to change, to grow, as she applies her own analysis to her work with emotionally disturbed children. Next, Grosskurth shows us Klein in Berlin, where she becomes a member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society and is analyzed and further encouraged in her work by Karl Abraham. She begins to publish, and, after a warmly received series of lectures in London, she accepts an invitation from Ernest Jones to come to England to practice. A glowing, productive future seems within her grasp. But, as we see, this courageous, forceful woman is to encounter (and sometimes evoke) opposition. Indeed, she is to spend the rest of her days embroiled in heated conflicts over the nature of her work and in struggles for control of the professional organizations to which she belongs - first and foremost with Sigmund Freud and his acolyte daughter Anna, then with several of the British analysts who had originally welcomed her so enthusiastica

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Extensive research went into this informative and revealing first major biography of Klein, a pioneer of child psychoanalysis, whose theories, although generated from Freud's discoveries of the unconscious, produced considerable controversy in their deviation from Freudian views. Klein is best known for her advocacy of play as a means of reaching a child's unconscious, and for her concepts of projective identification and patient-analyst countertransference. Grosskurth relates Klein's personal conflicts and traumas as a child and mother to the development of her ideas and methods as an analyst. She traces the history of psychoanalysis from Freud to the 1960s as it paralleled Klein's career, and reveals the often vicious and petty debates among British, American and German psychoanalytic societies, focusing on Klein's early support from and, according to the author, eventual betrayal by Ernest Jones; her fierce rivalry with child psychoanalyst Anna Freud; and her tyrannical rule in later years over the British psychoanalytic camp, dubbed ``Kleinian.'' A rudimentary knowledge of Freudian concepts is helpful but not necessary for reading this thorough study. Grosskurth has also written biographies of John Addington Symonds and Havelock Ellis. Photos not seen by PW. Macmillan Book Clubs and Jason Aronson Book Club alternates. (April 29)
Library Journal - Library Journal
``From the moment Melanie Klein read Freud's paper On Dreams (1901) in 1914, she was enraptured, converted, and dedicated to psychoanalysis.'' And so Grosskurth, biographer of Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, brings to life the famous child psychiatrist and her world. Klein grew up in Vienna. After reading Freud and entering analysis with Ferenczi, and later with Karl Abraham, Klein analyzed her own children and pursued psychoanalysis with seriousness and determination. Encouraged by Alix and James Strachey and Ernest Jones, she moved to the newly formed British Psycho-Analytical Society, often finding her concepts in conflict with those of Anna Freud. Grosskurthwith more objectivity and detail than Hanna Segal in her Melanie Klein ( LJ 7/80)conveys the personality and personal dynamics of her subject. The results are brilliant. Highly recommended. Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674564701
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1987
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
544
Product dimensions:
6.17(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.43(d)

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