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Karush, R.K. (1992). Children's Phantasies: The Shaping of Relationships: By Otto Weininger. London: Karnac, 1989, xx + 314 pp., £15.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:932-936.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:932-936

Children's Phantasies: The Shaping of Relationships: By Otto Weininger. London: Karnac, 1989, xx + 314 pp., £15.

Review by:
Ruth K. Karush, M.D.

The primary aim of this book, as explicitly stated by its author, is "to explore the relevance of [Melanie] Klein's analytic theory to our experiences as parents, teachers, and clinicians" (p. 2). To accomplish his goal, Otto Weininger, Professor of Applied Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, presents numerous vignettes which he hopes will illustrate how Klein's theory can illuminate our understanding of childhood experience. He presents examples ranging from crises of normal development, through the neurotic to the more profound psychotic disturbances. His clinical material comes from various settings, including play groups, ordinary schools, special schools for disturbed children, the family milieu, and play therapy. His final chapter is an account of the process of play psychotherapy with a ten-year-old boy which was carried out under Weininger's supervision. His psychoanalytic understanding of this material is rooted in a thorough knowledge and commitment to Kleinian theory.

Klein built her theory on the premise that, from the very beginning, the infant is capable of forming relationships—primarily in fantasy, but also in reality. From the moment of birth, the infant is exposed to perceptions, both pleasant and unpleasant, and to impulses, both loving and hateful. There is a sorting out of what is good from what is bad. Impulses are linked with the fantasy of the object. The infant's desires cause him to fantasize an ideal object that will satisfy all his wishes, and he tries to get rid of all his pain and hatred by attributing these impulses to a bad external object or the bad breast. The good external experiences are ascribed to the good breast which the infant wishes to incorporate. Thus, according to Klein, from the very beginning of a child's life the mental processes of projection and introjection are in operation. The infant's projections create both ideal and persecutory objects which then affect his experience of reality. In this book, Weininger describes his conversations with young children.

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