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Franey, M. (2019). Reading Klein by Margaret Rustin & Michael Rustin London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis the New Library of Psychoanalysis 2016; 200 pp.. Fort Da, 25(1):79-86.

(2019). Fort Da, 25(1):79-86

Reading Klein by Margaret Rustin & Michael Rustin London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis the New Library of Psychoanalysis 2016; 200 pp.

Review by:
Maureen Franey, Ph.D.

Kleinian theory is one of the most influential, contentious and — from the Rustins’ point of view in their 2016 book, Reading Klein — one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood psychoanalytic theories. The Rustins aim to demystify Klein via Klein's own words, demonstrating how she was truly the “mother” of object relations theory in her challenge to Freud's belief in primary narcissism.

With Klein's conviction that the infant is first and foremost in relation to the mother's body — both in the womb and outside of it — object relations theory was born. Klein believed that the infant was in relation to the feeding, satisfying breast/environment or the frustrating, depriving breast/environment from the very beginning of life. The Rustins underscore Klein's belief that the infant is in an emotional relationship to both the external and internal mother from the start, and that the relationship is at first to a part object and later to the whole object. The authors emphasize Klein's belief that the personality develops through accumulated experiences of introjective and projective processes, and then they attempt to demonstrate how these ideas were grounded in Klein's exquisitely close observation of young children.

The Rustins felt that the best way to convey Klein's thinking was to present the reader with Klein's own words and her detailed case notes. Ultimately, the authors are keen to portray a warm, compassionate, kind, and deeply intuitive Melanie Klein, and in this endeavor, I believe they have succeeded.


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