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Pasieka, V. (2015). Melanie Klein in Berlin: Her First Psychoanalyses of Children By Claudia Frank, translated by Sophie Leighton and Sue Young London: Routledge, 2009, pp. 485.. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 23(1):254-257.

(2015). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 23(1):254-257

Melanie Klein in Berlin: Her First Psychoanalyses of Children By Claudia Frank, translated by Sophie Leighton and Sue Young London: Routledge, 2009, pp. 485.

Review by:
Vivienne Pasieka

In this English edition of her 1999 German publication, Claudia Frank provides a refreshing look at Klein's theory and technique in the making. She delineates a chronological reconstruction of Klein's original case notes that traces the gradual coming into being of the psychoanalytic play technique and Kleinian theory as we have come to know it before Klein herself did, offering us a front row seat into the clinician's mind at work.

Through her scholarly research at the Wellcome Library for the History of Medicine in London, Frank has exercised due diligence in rigorously cross-referencing clinical sequences emphasized by Klein in her published works with what is expressed in her earlier unpublished manuscripts and original case notes from the Klein Archive with respect to 4 of the 22 children with whom she worked in Berlin between 1921 and 1926. The result is an illuminating portrayal of Klein's unfolding theory, solidly rooted in her clinical practice. Frank articulates contradictions, as well as points of overlap, making cogent hypotheses about the discrepancies, in addition to using this “new” evidence to refute claims made by Klein's own biographer, including the fact that, apart from her “analytic explorations” with her son, Erich, Klein did not analyze her children.

The historical case reports represent Frank's subject matter, the treatment notes, the phenomenological data she now brings to our attention to mull over alongside her (notwithstanding her appreciation that case histories and clinical notes are themselves subject to the same counter-transference response, as is direct work with the patient), and also, in turn our third-person reading of it. In this respect, Frank's hermeneutic phenomenological study itself applies the psychoanalytic method in inviting the reader to observe and participate in the transference-counter-transference dynamics with a view to coming to an ever-closer understanding. It is Frank's hypothesis that the negative transference and the analyst's attitude towards it—as carefully traced through this volume—was the greatest obstacle to the direct analysis of children.

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