Reading Melanie Klein

Reading Melanie Klein

Reading Melanie Klein

Reading Melanie Klein

Synopsis

Kleinian psychoanalysis has recently experienced a renaissance in academic and clinical circles. Reading Melanie Klein responds to the upsurge of interest in her work by bringing together the most innovative and challenging essays on Kleinian thought from the last two decades. The book features material which appears here for the first time in English, and several newly written chapters.Reading Melaine Klein recontextualizes Klein to the more well-known works of Freud and Lacan and disproves the long-held claim that her psychoanalysis is both too normative and too conservative for critical consideration. The essays address Klein's distinctive readings of the unconscious and phantasy, her tenacious commitment to the death drive, her fecund notions of anxiety, projection and projective identification and, most famously, her challenge to Freud's Oedipus complex and theories of sexual difference. The authors demonstrate that not only is it possible to rethink the epistemological basis of Kleinian theory, rendering it as vital as those of Freud and Lacan, but also that her psychoanalysis can engage in powerful and productive dialogue with diverse disciplines such as politics, ethics and literary theory.This timely collection is an invaluable addition to the scholarship on Melaine Kein and catalyst for further debate not only within the psychoanalytic community but also across social, critical and cultural studies.

Excerpt

In the following introduction Juliet Mitchell suggests that one aspect of Melanie Klein's importance lies in her ability to identify with what she observes in order to follow what is going on and then to describe it. It is this that provides such a powerful evocation of infantile experience in Klein's writings. But, more than that, Mitchell argues, what Klein identifies and describes bears directly on the very business of clinical observation and description. the analyst, no less than the struggling infant, must learn to engage with 'areas of confusion, fusion, lack of boundaries, of communicating without the differential structures of speech.' So for Klein, analysis must address aspects of the infant's experience that strictly cannot be articulated in theoretical language.

The chapter first appeared as the introduction to the Selected Melanie Klein, which Mitchell edited in 1986, and which, as a widely circulated single edition of Klein's key works, has helped to pave the way for the 'return to Klein' that we are witnessing today. Mitchell very carefully distinguishes between the ideas of Sigmund Freud and those of Klein in a way that denies the need to engage at length with their endlessly controversial differences. What is at stake here is not a question of orthodoxy but of what it is precisely that Klein contributes. Mitchell gives an eloquent account of the main principles of Freudian development by focusing on what in Freud has most relevance to Klein's own development-centrally, his theory of infantile sexuality and his account of the unconscious as 'a hypothetical area that is always unfathomable.' Mitchell also emphasizes the importance of Freud's later theories of the death drive and the super-ego, which were new to psychoanalysis when Klein was developing her own analytic technique, and which are crucially transformed notions in Klein's writings.

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