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Spillius, E.B. (1983). Some Developments from the Work of Melanie Klein. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 64:321-332.

(1983). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 64:321-332

Some Developments from the Work of Melanie Klein

Elizabeth Bott Spillius

The fact that I find it impossible to give a comprehensive review of developments from Melanie Klein's work is in itself a tribute to the richness and originality of her discoveries and ideas. There have been so many developments by so many psychoanalysts and in so many countries that if I were to cover them all I would end up with a bare list of topics, people, places. I have decided to limit discussion to developments concerning four topics: projective identification, thinking, technique, and the workings of the death instinct and the inner world.

I will confine discussion to developments in Britain and will therefore make no attempt to describe the effects of Klein's work on psychoanalysis in Europe or South America. Nor will I try to assess the mutual effects of interaction between Kleinian psychoanalysts in Britain and British psychoanalysts of other schools of thought. Further, I take it for granted that readers are familiar with the Kleinian approach; I am of course aware that parts of it are controversial, but apologia is not my aim.


Klein developed the idea of projective identification in the course of describing the paranoid-schizoid position (Klein, 1946). She had been talking for a long time about the child having phantasies of getting inside the mother's body, but this was a different emphasis. She thought of projective identification as a phantasy in which bad parts of the self were split off from the rest of the self and, together

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