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Meltzer, D. (1986). The Analytical World: Institutions and Limitations. J. Anal. Psychol., 31(3):263-265.

(1986). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 31(3):263-265

The Analytical World: Institutions and Limitations

D. Meltzer

Those who know Michael Fordham and his professional history better than I do must judge for themselves whether what follows is in his praise or has a more ambiguous import, but I will protest at the outset that it is intended as an expression of my admiration. To my limited knowledge he seems to have been able to function outstandingly in all three areas, clinical, theoretical and organisational, in an integrated and therefore sincere way. This, I will claim, is the basis for the sort of authenticity which makes the maximum contribution and does the minimum damage in any field of work where organisation is a necessary element.

In reviewing what I do know of the history of other outstanding figures, particularly Freud, Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, I am struck by certain similarities to one another. The passion with which they carried on their clinical work in the seclusion of their consulting rooms, as scientists in the laboratory and artists in the studio, was clearly outstanding. All three also clearly participated in the messianic spirit and were driven to sacrifice their leisure and privacy to communicate their experiences in a form sufficiently generalised to be mistakenly called theories. Further, all three were persons of magnetism, charisma, which drew to them colleagues and admirers, camp-followers and apostles, spoilers and madmen, forcing all three of them into the political arena. It is certainly true that Freud had a Mosaic taste for leadership, Mrs Klein had the fierceness of a lioness for her cubs with respect to her ideas, and Bion could not escape being ‘an experienced officer’ naturally decorated by the regard of his troops, ‘loaded with honours and sunk without a trace’.

In my opinion all three failed in their intention to serve psychoanalysis by virtue of the unintegrated state of their leadership functioning, with the consequence that they fostered elitism and schismatic tendencies.

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