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Rusbridger, R. (1988). Josephine Klein: Our Need for Others and its Roots in Infancy. Published by Tavistock Publications, 1987. Hardback, £29.95. Paperback, £14.95.. J. Child Psychother., 14(2):109-110.

(1988). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 14(2):109-110

Josephine Klein: Our Need for Others and its Roots in Infancy. Published by Tavistock Publications, 1987. Hardback, £29.95. Paperback, £14.95.

Review by:
Richard Rusbridger

As Josephine Klein shows in this excellent book, there is a great deal of convergence between apparently different psychoanalytic theories.

The field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy is notable for the number and apparent diversity of its theories. Working on the common foundation of Freud's discoveries, subsequent writers have described their own insights. They have often developed their own language to do this, sometimes very off-putting language at that (“object”, “paranoid-schizoid position”, “ocnophilia”). It is then hard, perhaps both for each writer and for someone wanting to learn about the field, to see how new ideas can contribute to earlier ones, rather than necessarily conflict with them. The accounts of early life by, for example, Winnicott, Fairbairn, Klein and Kohut can seem to lie awkwardly together, if at all.

Some features of our field, in addition to idiosyncratic use of language, make it hard to stand back and see what different theories may have in common. For instance, there is a tendency to follow patterns of allegiance to particular thinkers and groups of thinkers rather than to others. This, a feature of any institution or group, is driven and maintained in the field of psychotherapy by the loyalty felt by therapists towards their analysts and the theoretical “family” to which their analyst belongs. At its most inhibiting, this allegiance, together with the sheer difficulty of communicating about such an intensely private experience as psychotherapy, can lead to writers falling back on formulae and referring to “group” authors in order to establish their credibility as a group member.

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