Rita Teusch, PhD, Faculty Member of BPSI. Her remarks below originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of the Hanns Sachs Library Newsletter, which can be read here.
This precious little book consists of a series of six lectures given by Melanie Klein to students at the British Psychoanalytic Society beginning in 1936. They were discovered in the Melanie Klein Archives housed in the Wellcome Medical Library and have been previously described by Elizabeth Spillius, but have never before been published. Also published for the first time, this book includes annotated transcripts of a recording of a seminar Melanie Klein held in 1958 (two years before her death) with young analysts at the British Psychoanalytic Society. John Steiner, a leading Kleinian Analyst and writer has expertly edited these Klein lectures and her seminar. In his introduction he highlights their importance for understanding Klein’s work and shows their continued relevance for contemporary psychoanalysis. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it shows us a very personable Melanie Klein who speaks expertly and openly about clinical challenges and how to manage them in the context of her clinical findings and her theory. The reader will feel enriched by the range of her thought and her ability to clearly address analytic challenges that are still being discussed in our seminars today, such as questions about what constitutes an analytic attitude, issues around transference and countertransference, when, how and why to make interpretations, how to manage the dialectic between phantasy and reality. Klein also reflects on the dynamics of love, hate, envy, omnipotence, and how to modify an early destructive superego. I came away from reading this book with a renewed admiration for Klein and her humanity. She writes: ” The analyst is only capable of approaching and understanding his patient as a human being if his own emotions and human feelings are fully active, though they are well kept under control. …the analyst [needs to possess] a really good attitude towards the patient as a person. By that I do not mean merely friendly human feelings and a benevolent attitude toward people, but, in addition to this, something of the nature of a deep and true respect for the workings of the human mind and the human personality in general” (p.30). Klein reveals her unfailing confidence in the psychoanalytic method as the only one that explores the patient’s unconscious, which is the seat of the patient’s deepest anxieties. She writes:” In all other psychotherapeutic methods the physician attempts to take control, more or less, of the unconscious, partly, I think, as a defense against his anxiety of the unconscious. It is true that insufficient knowledge of the unconscious contributes to feelings of anxiety it arouses but it is also true that it is anxiety which inhibits the exploration of the unconscious and can even lead to complete denial of its existence” (p. 55). I strongly recommend this book to all clinicians. It is highly accessible and surprisingly timely.
About the Author
Rita Teusch, PhD, is a Training and Supervising Analyst and faculty member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She is a part-time Lecturer in Psychiatry (Psychology) at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Health Alliance, and provides supervision to psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows at Cambridge Hospital. Dr. Teusch has a private practice in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
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