Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius

Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius

Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius

Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius


In Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius the author argues that her two professions, anthropology and psychoanalysis, have much in common, and explains how her background in anthropology led her on to a profound involvement in psychoanalysis and her establishment as a leading figure amongst Kleinian analysts.

Spillius describes what she regards as the important features of Kleinian thought and discusses the research she has carried out in Melanie Klein's unpublished archive, including Klein's views on projective identification.

Spillius's own clinical ideas make up the last part of the book with papers on envy, phantasy, technique, the negative therapeutic reaction and otherness. Her writing has a clarity which is very particular to her; she conveys complicated ideas in a most straightforward manner, well illustrated with pertinent clinical material.

This book represents fifty years of the developing thought and scholarship of a talented and dedicated psychoanalyst.


Elizabeth Bott Spillius occupies a unique position among contemporary Kleinian psychoanalysts. She is a renowned training and supervising analyst, teaching for many years at the British Society and also in Europe and North and South America. But anyone familiar with the literature of Kleinian psychoanalysis over the last 20 years realizes she is more than that as well – in her capacities as chronicler, archivist, editor and historian, she is Boswell to the Kleinian Dr Johnson. How, in the future, psychoanalysts think about the development of post-Kleinian thought will be profoundly affected by Spillius’s description, understanding and organization of these ideas.

Her history and her training have predisposed and prepared her for this role: she grew up in Canada in an academic family with ties to the wild Canadian countryside as well as to university life. She graduated from the University of Toronto and then went to graduate school to study anthropology in Chicago, arriving in London in 1949 to do further work in anthropology at the London School of Economics and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. What this has meant is, first of all, that she has never really lost her North American voice – she is direct, unfussy, open-minded and straight-talking. Her writing is at the same time personal and matter of fact.

Secondly, she consistently writes from the dual viewpoints of a psychoanalyst who is also a social scientist: in everything she studies she is by temperament and by training both a participant and an observer. In the first paper in this book, Anthropology and Psychoanalysis (Chapter 1) she describes the relationship between these two disciplines, but as one reads through the book, one can see this complex . . .

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