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Britton, R. (2010). Melanie Klein in Berlin by Claudia Frank Routledge, Hove, New Library of Psychoanalysis, 2009; 500 pp; £24.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 91(6):1535-1539.

(2010). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 91(6):1535-1539

Melanie Klein in Berlin by Claudia Frank Routledge, Hove, New Library of Psychoanalysis, 2009; 500 pp; £24.99

Review by:
Ronald Britton

This book gives us an unparalleled opportunity to see how Melanie Klein developed her method of the psychoanalysis of children: from her clinical notes, Berlin Clinic records and the unpublished texts in the Klein Archive alongside her published work. What later became known as ‘Kleinian analysis’ began with the pioneering analytic work that Melanie Klein did in Berlin with children between 1921 and 1926 and it was the foundation of the psychoanalytic theories which she developed later in London in conjunction with her colleagues.

When she moved to Berlin she was 38 years old, with three children and separated from her husband. She had little money, few friends and no patrons but what was on her mind was the idea that child psychoanalysis would reveal things as yet unknown, that she would discover them and a belief that they would be welcomed. She was encouraged in this by her first analyst and teacher Sandor Ferenczi in Budapest. She approached Karl Abraham at the Hague Congress of 1920, although she was still a ‘nobody’ in the analytic world, to ask about moving to Berlin. She must have received some encouragement as she quickly embarked on it. She had only been qualified as a member of the Budapest Psychoanalytic Society for two years when she moved to Berlin.

In 1921 Berlin was the most exciting psychoanalytic venue of the day under the presiding spirit of Karl Abraham: the first low fee/free analytic clinic had opened a year earlier; the Berlin Institute training was systematized with analysis, seminars and supervision and there were regular scientific meetings. When Melanie Klein arrived, her place in Berlin was so precarious that she gave the Polyclinic as her address. However, undeterred, she gave her first paper on child analysis in February 1921 and another entitled Early analysis at the International Congress in Berlin in 1922 (‘early’ meant analysis of young children).

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[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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