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Who is Melanie Klein? A pioneer of child analysis with the significance it attaches to the relationship with his caregivers, Melanie Klein is a direct descendant of Sigmund Freud’s work on psychoanalysis.

In her book, Juliet Mitchell regroups the most significant ideas from Melanie Klein that have established this Austrian-British author as an authority in her field. Questions regarding the early stages of the Oedipus Complex, the infant’s anxiety, the importance of symbol formation in the development of the ego, to cite the first half of the book only, are addressed using a form of imagery which may appear be quite surprising to the reader. Is this account really what a child may be imagining in those situations? could be one of the questions that keep haunting the reader.

Regardless, Melanie Klein’s work would eventually be commonly assimilated to object relation theory. As its name suggests, this specific theoretical edifice deals with the effect of the internalized relations with primary caretakers during infancy (i.e. objects), and their unconscious influence on the nature of future relationships. This school of thoughts would later include house names authors such as Otto Rank, Sandor Ferenczi, Ronald Fairbairn, Donald Winnicott, Harry Guntrip, and Scott Stuart.

One may argue that Jacques Lacan owes a debt to Melanie Klein. Seen by him as proposing a clinical approach that at times may be considered dangerous, Lacan uses object relation theory to lean against with the view to promote his own ideas. In this context, Lacan’s work may be viewed as almost an antithesis to Klein’s ideas. When she knows and interprets her young patient’s drawings with certitude Lacan would not approach the clinic with the same confidence about the truth.

Klein’s work is for Lacan situated in one of the three realms that constitute the Borromean knot, that of the Imaginary. In this respect, Klein’s developments de facto become only one dimension within a bigger ensemble that also comprises the Symbolic and the Real. If Klein’s views were that interpreting the child’s fantasies contributed efficiently to the treatment of her patients, for Lacan it is the Symbolic that heals.

Still, however much Lacanian analysts believe in the dangers in approaching the clinic via the Imaginary, one nonetheless feels obliged to acknowledge the debt owed to her in the sphere of psychoanalysis.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster; 1st American Ed edition (6 Feb. 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780029214817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029214817


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