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Flynn, D. (2020). The clinical paradigms of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott: Comparisons and Dialogues: by J. Abram and R. D. Hinshelwood, London and New York, Routledge, 2018, 230 pp., £22.99p, ISBN: 978-1-78220-310-0. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(3):634-638.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(3):634-638

The clinical paradigms of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott: Comparisons and Dialogues: by J. Abram and R. D. Hinshelwood, London and New York, Routledge, 2018, 230 pp., £22.99p, ISBN: 978-1-78220-310-0

Denis Flynn

This book sets out the main theoretical ideas of Klein and Winnicott, and then compares and contrasts them. It brings out how Klein and then Winnicott became a major theorist of psychoanalysis, how each had their own separate interests and approach, so what they evolved were distinctively different clinical paradigms. The book contains 10 papers in five main sections, one in each section by each author followed by a dialogue, and then a final summary interchange plus a glossary of certain central terms, which after the earlier discussions can now be seen in a fuller light. Each theoretical outline is itself a position statement on a central theme, with the value of being succinct and at times challenging – for these are real dialogues that are both alive and lively.

The authors’ chosen method of study in the book is an academic dialogue, in debate about the meaning and value of central concepts with a few short clinical examples, which is a significantly different way of doing psychoanalytic research from the usual examination of longer case studies. Within the dialogues, clarity of exposition of the central ideas of both Klein and Winnicott is sought, and certain sections from each author are particularly clear and helpful. Some misperceptions and mythologies about the other’s perspective are tackled within the dialogues, and in some places tensions of misunderstanding remain, but the debate shows that when the underlying meaning of each approach is looked at closely, further understanding can follow.

[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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