Psychoanalysis
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek

Related Topics
Melanie KleinReview - Melanie Klein
by Julia Kristeva
Columbia University Press, 2002
Review by Aleksandar Dimitrijevic
Jun 15th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 24)

It seems that the depth of Julia Kristeva's thinking -- and in this case of her reading as well -- resists any reviewing. To do justice to a book of hers, one should write an essay at the very least. A portrait of her oeuvre deserves a volume of its own, for her influence spreads over several disciplines, and more and more languages. This Bulgarian-born Parisienne is at the same time a psychoanalyst, a linguist, a semiologist, an erudite scholar and critic, and a novelist.

This most prolific author decided to write a trilogy on Female Genius. The first volume -- entitled Life -- was devoted to the famous and equally prolific philosopher Hannah Arendt, the second -- Madness -- to Melanie Klein, and the final one -- Words -- to the French novelist Colette. Kristeva considers these authors emblematic of the XX century female genuis because "at the heart of the precarious solitude of their pioneering work, which was the price they paid for their unique creativity, Arendt, Klein, and Colette managed to create the conditions that give rise to a necessarily public opinion and, why not, a school and, at best, create an effect of seduction that solicits a communion of readings and a community of readers."

It is impossible for me to say what amount of the study I am reviewing is a product of self-reflection by a woman who unites these three allegedly distinct commitments: philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literature. However, many of the ideas in the volume on Melanie Klein come from Kristeva's rethinking of her own theories. It seems that in this volume she did not draw a sharp line between Klein's theory and her own, especially when it came to language acquisition and development of creativity. Still, this is not the only reason for the choice. Kristeva explicitly considers Klein "the most original innovator, male or female, in the psychoanalytic arena," who introduced a new approach without ever abandoning Freudian theory.

Controversial as this claim may turn out to be, Kristeva's book will, I am sure, help delineate Klein's position in a much better way. Melanie Klein has so far very often been "worshiped to the point of dogmatic fanaticism by her disciples, and held in utter contempt by her detractors, some of whom did not hesitate to deny her the analyst title." In her book, Kristeva sails safely between these extremes in her search for what is still alive in the Kleinian theory. Specifically, this book could prove to be one of the most important among almost two-dozen translations of Kristeva in English. The reason for that could be Melanie Klein's specific place within the realm of Anglo-American psychoanalysis, where she has too often been neglected.

The book can be considered a biography. It tells a lot about Klein's growing up, her private life, the great controversy in the British Psychoanalytic Society and her conflict with her daughter. Kristeva relies on the most popular Klein biography -- the volume by Phyllis Grosskurth -- but writes a different kind of book. Hers is more of a critical study and an elaboration of Klein's numerous implicit theses for which biographical data serve as important context. Not only is Kristeva superbly successful in this elaboration, but also I believe she is sometimes superior to Klein herself in the conceptual articulation of clinical insights.

The clinical aspects of Klein's work are, of course, indispensable in discussing her theory. They are given due credit here, too: Klein's contribution to our understanding of negative transference, projective identification, analysis of children, and so on. Unfortunately, Kristeva writes about Klein's famous cases with fewer details than they deserve. I assume that her decision to do so was a consequence of book's length and target -- it is mere 296 pages long and is intended for a professional audience that should already be familiar with these cases. Still, we are deprived of the clinical talent Kristeva revealed in her previous books and it would no doubt further improve this one.

However, the book contains all of the most important conclusions of Klein's work. One of them relates the importance of play -- so important in German Romanticism and never sufficiently elaborated and utilized by Freud. What dreams were to Freud, play was to Klein: the royal road to the unconscious. Its importance is not only in overcoming confinements of children's language proficiency, but in that it gives us a clear insight into one's central anxieties and phantasies, which Klein considered of utmost importance. Her developmental theory is organized around succession of schizoid, paranoid, depressive, and Oedipal anxieties (and defense mechanisms and relations), and her clinical work considers anxiety an important sign a therapist should always monitor. Kleinianism is also recognizable for its emphasis on innate (and inborn) fantasies as "metaphors incarnate" that provide connections between drives -- particularly, the death drive -- and consciousness.

But play is not just a tool that allows us to observe children's psychic life. It gave Klein the first block to build her theory of creativity. After her insights about the capacity to play, she postulates depression as the precursor of creativity (unfortunately, Kay Redfield Jamison has never, as far as I know, acknowledged Klein's primacy and discussed her position). The ego as a whole takes shape through depressive position, but it is even more characteristic of creativity and symbolization that they depend on "death that devours men" and one's capacity to make reparation to "the bits to which the loved object has been reduced." Kristeva adds here the concept of ab-ject, absent -- missing, lost, destroyed -- object, and its importance for knowledge, creativity, and identity.

Kristeva renders Kleinian theory "the psychoanalysis as a capacity to think." I do not know whether Bion ever made a similar statement, but I am sure he would have liked to. When I began reading this book, I wondered whether Melanie Klein would have gone that far. Or was that what Kristeva would like Klein had intended to say? Nevertheless, the book is very convincing on this, no matter how unusual the idea of matricide and Klein's interpretation of "Oresteia" might seem at first glance: in order to think, one must first lose the mother; and after separation -- which in baby's primitive unconscious equals murder -- the self never stops re-creating her.

Klein did not only posit mother -- and the maternal -- as being of central importance for personality development. She considered femininity as central to culture and history as a whole. She hypothesized "a primary feminine phase of development" for both girls and boys. And all these ideas are reflected in her views on psychoanalysis as a profession: it is a maternal vocation in that it restores psychic life, and an aid to a capacity to think, to create symbols where once anxiety was. Kristeva, on her part, adds quite a contemporary consideration: "I would like to think that each individual invents his or her sex in the domain of intimacy. Therein lies genius, which is quite simply creativity."

Kristeva also explains that the works of her three female geniuses are so deeply shaped by their femininity that they cannot be understood without studying their biographies: "You are a genius to the extent that you are able to challenge the sociohistorical conditions of your identity. This is the legacy of Arendt, Klein, and Colette."

Aren't we quite soon going to witness a book that will try to apply these notions to Julia Kristeva's work? I wholeheartedly admit I am looking forward to it.

 

© 2005 Aleksandar Dimitrijevic

 

Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716