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Tip: To review the bibliography…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Rustin, M. (1991). Melanie Klein Today: Developments in Theory and Practice, Vol. 1 Mainly Theory; Vol. 2 Mainly Practice, edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, London: Routledge in association with the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1988, 365/322 pages, pb £14.95 each. Free Associations, 2(3):458-460.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(3):458-460

Melanie Klein Today: Developments in Theory and Practice, Vol. 1 Mainly Theory; Vol. 2 Mainly Practice, edited by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, London: Routledge in association with the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1988, 365/322 pages, pb £14.95 each

Review by:
Margaret Rustin

These two volumes contain an immensely useful collection of psychoanalytic papers published by Kleinian analysts over roughly the last thirty years. They are introduced with admirable clarity by the editor, Elizabeth Spillius, who has grouped the papers in a number of ways. The primary division into volumes centred on ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ is acknowledged to be an artificial one because of the centrality of direct discussion of clinical material in all Kleinian writing, but it is none the less a helpful organizing principle, which has allowed some major threads of development to be picked out. Within each volume, Spillius's introductory observations and linkages are of great interest, and the organization by theme makes the collection into an intellectually coherent whole. The reader's pleasure, however, will probably focus on the opportunity to explore the distinctive voice and approach of a range of well-known Kleinian analysts whose writing gives a very strong sense of their individual analytic sensibility. The quality of writing and thinking is an enormous pleasure to the reader.

Spillius divides Volume 1 into sections entitled ‘The analysis of psychotic patients’, ‘Projective identification’, ‘On thinking’ and ‘Pathological organizations’. She makes it clear that this involves a choice of emphasis, and excludes some other significant elements in the Kleinian tradition, particularly in the fourth section. Her Introduction provides an excellent summary of the main lines of theoretical development. The outline of Bion's contribution is brilliantly lucid and clarifies which of his ideas have been generally accepted and which remain more controversial. Spillius's editorial style is studiously impartial on these matters, and she offers rather few opinions of her own, but her map-drawing will enable readers to orientate themselves in a variety of ways.

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