Melanie Klein. Her World and her Work.
London, Maresfield, 1989. 515 pages. Original Softcover. Secondhand book in very good condition.
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 enthusiastically, and most tragically with her own daughter Melitta, whom Klein had introduced to the psychoanalytic world when she was still a girl in Budapest. And yet, as beleaguered as she often is, Klein continues to explore new territory in her studies of mourning and envy, and to expand the meaning of such key concepts as the Oedipus complex and the death instinct. (Publishers informaion).