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Boris, H.N. (1997). Clinical Klein: From Theory To Practice. By R.D. Hinshelwood. New York: Basic Books, 1994, 260 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:601-605.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:601-605

Clinical Klein: From Theory To Practice. By R.D. Hinshelwood. New York: Basic Books, 1994, 260 pp.

Review by:
Harold N. Boris

Melanie Klein, few would deny, was not an impeccable theoretician. She had no clear notion of levels of abstraction, and she mixed metapsychological and clinical concepts in a fierce mélange. She attributed sophisticated mechanisms to a barely formed ego and invoked a superego that came from nowhere and everywhere. Her ideas of an early and primitive oedipus complex was located variously in instinctual life, mental life, and something that was going to be called object relations. In fact, it was only after the central preoccupation of classical psychoanalysis shifted from the intrapsychic to object relations that Klein came to be considered outside her circle at all, but then she soon foundered on Winnicott.

Klein was not a good writer, her prose being dense and often abstruse. It must be said, however, that in Joan Riviere, Susan Isaacs, Betty Joseph, Paula Heimann, and Hanna Segal she drew excellent writers to her. To this central coterie were added Ernest Jones, Roger Money-Kyrle, Herbert Rosenfeld, and Wilfred Bion. Klein herself wrote like a woman with a cause, that is, with a scarcely concealed polemical thrust. Hence, to those who are not politicized, such writings, by any writer, soon seem tedious and somehow beside the point. There are exceptions. Her book Richard, composed during an evacuation of London during the Blitz, when Klein and her ten-year-old patient worked briefly in a schoolroom in the little village to which by chance they had both repaired, reads like a novel in its daily accounting of the boy's life and, above all of course, his inner life. This work, perhaps because the enemy was palpable, is free of the ex cathedra tone that Klein increasingly was coming to adopt; the book is alive with the sense of wonder that marks all of our best psychoanalytic texts.

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