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Segal, J. (2004). Melanie Klein: Her Work in Context by Meira Likierman (Continuum, London and New York, 2002). 238 pp. £14.99.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 18:143-145.

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(2004). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 18(1):143-145

Melanie Klein: Her Work in Context by Meira Likierman (Continuum, London and New York, 2002). 238 pp. £14.99.

Review by:
Julia Segal

Reading Adam Phillips's review on the dustjacket of this book, which says ‘Klein has been quoted but she has never, until Likierman's book, been properly read’, I was indignant on behalf of the many authors who have given us excellent accounts of Klein's work. I was further put off by what seemed to me something of an idealization of Ferenczi at the beginning of the book. I knew that Klein grieved for Ferenczi when she felt he abandoned psychoanalysis in using his ‘active technique’, and that she was concerned about his physical contact with patients. Other omissions at the beginning of the book also irritated me. For example, the murder of Hermine Hug-Hellmuth by a nephew she had brought up, and his subsequent demand for compensation from the Society on the grounds that her analysis of him was for her research (Grosskurth 1986, p. 123) must have influenced Klein's attitude to parents analysing their own children. Likierman, in an otherwise detailed discussion of the issue, fails to mention it.

However, by the end, I was almost completely won over. Likierman takes many of Klein's ideas and concepts, and traces in careful detail not only vital links with Freud, Ferenczi, Abraham, and later Anna Freud, Fairbairn and Winnicott, but also the shifts and turns in Klein's own understanding. Likierman is concerned with the challenges to her ideas which Klein faced in her own time, and she gives us a

reflection on how Klein handled direct charges levelled against

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