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Stobart, K. (2008). Spillius, Elizabeth. Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius. New York & Hove: Routledge, 2007. Pp. xv + 248. Pbk. £21.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(4):576-578.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(4):576-578

Spillius, Elizabeth. Encounters with Melanie Klein: Selected Papers of Elizabeth Spillius. New York & Hove: Routledge, 2007. Pp. xv + 248. Pbk. £21.99.

Review by:
Karen Stobart

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

This fascinating, absorbing book is as much about how Elizabeth Spillius integrates her original discipline of anthropology into her thinking and practice as an analyst as it is about the theoretical contribution of Melanie Klein. Her openness about this process invites the reader to consider how their intellectual and professional past might be influencing their present approach to theory and clinical work.

Although the book is divided into three parts the author succeeds in creating a coherent work by giving an account of Klein's clinical and theoretical contributions using unpublished material from the Melanie Klein Archive as well as from the published writings of Klein and several contemporary Kleinians (Part II). In Part III she offers her own clinical reflections on concepts such as ‘the negative therapeutic reaction’ and ‘envious experience’.

In Part I Spillius writes ‘My interest in anthropology began long before I encountered psychoanalysis’. The book demonstrates the long-lasting influence of this initial interest and how it influenced the approach Spillius has taken to psychoanalytic theory.

In Chapter 1 she mentions a number of anthropological concepts such as Malinowski's method of study, ‘participant observation’ (p. 8) which is described as the standard research method of anthropology. As Spillius writes (p. 14) ‘Participant observation has its counterparts in psychoanalysis as its practitioners have come to realize that their immediate subject matter is not only the patient but also the analyst-patient relationship’. This is an idea not unfamiliar to Jungian analysts.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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