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Astor, J. (1991). Correspondence. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(4):519-527.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(4):519-527


James Astor

Because the developmental approach characterising the London School is so influenced by Kleinian metapsychology much of this paper can be read as my attempt to modify this influence, (quoted from The Klein connection in the London school: the search for origins by Louis Zinkin, published in Vol. 36, No. 1 (1991) of this journal).

To some readers this statement of Zinkin's is provocative, especially as he has such a low opinion of the achievements of the two pioneers referred to: Melanie Klein and Michael Fordham. He objects to Klein being called one of the great innovators alongside Freud and Jung, as if her ideas were dangerous. But to value her clinical contribution does not mean you have to agree with her. Particularly relevant to the London Society, however, is the dismissal of the revolutionary nature of Fordham's work on the original psychosomatic self. I would therefore briefly like to comment on what I perceive as a bias in Zinkin's approach, his hostility towards the achievements of Klein and Fordham, and how this influences what he does with his patients. I am not going to discuss whether there is any evidence for Fordham being influenced by whatever is meant by Kleinian metapsychology; Fordham claims he was not or, if at all, only marginally. The briefest glance at his publications reveals Fordham to be a clinician first and foremost. He has modified and developed essentially Jungian concepts and theories in the light of clinical evidence in much the same way as Klein's experience in the consulting room led to her developments of Freud. He shares Jung's reservations about theories and his major contributions have derived from his own practice and reflections on it, not from theory, especially that of Klein.

But what does need stating clearly is that Fordham and Klein differ in numerous ways, many of which Fordham has spelt out himself. In this article Fordham is linked to mythologically presented ‘Kleinians’ and by so doing his work on the original psychosomatic self is trivialised.

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