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Papernik, D.S. (1994). The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-45: Edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner. London/New York: Routledge, 1991. 966 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:549-552.
(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:549-552
The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-45: Edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner. London/New York: Routledge, 1991. 966 pp.
Review by: Daniel S. Papernik
Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner have created a highly successful book which presents discussions that took place in the British Psycho-Analytical Society during the Second World War. Their research has been exhaustive and meticulous, and their commentary is thoughtful and illuminating.
They have used psychoanalysis as a model for their volume and have succeeded, with some planned exceptions, in arranging their material in chronological fashion. The reader is placed in the historical situation and is pulled along by the events as they unfold. Just as in analysis where analysand and analyst know that they are on a journey but do not know where the journey will end, here too the participants did not know what the outcome would be, and the reader empathizes with them.
The book deals with a number of interrelated issues. The title, The Freud-Klein Controversies, refers to one of the issues, the place of the theories of Melanie Klein within psychoanalysis. But the work makes it clear that theories cannot be separated from the personalities of either their proponents or their opponents. Nor can theories be separated from the historical time or the Zeitgeist in which they are presented.
In addition, the book represents an important contribution to the study of intellectual ferment and development. There was a crucible-like atmosphere where many ideas were proposed, challenged, and refined in a relatively short period of time. The result was the production of a great many outstanding papers. The reader is led to understand the political and social strategies which took place during the debates. Here, the editors' access to many archives is particularly useful, and they take great pains to give the reader an "unexpurgated" version of the events.
Also important is the description of the transition from a small, static, relatively homogeneous analytic society with an unchanging and autocratic leadership to a more democratic organization that went through a period of major controversy.
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