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This new selection from the papers of Donald Meltzer spans his working life and serves as an introduction to all his key concepts, such as: aesthetic conflict, the claustrum, adhesive identification, thought disorder, the nature of symbol formation, and his revised theories of sexuality and dream life.
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The contents of the three volumes are grouped not chronologically but under the headings of ‘Personality and Family Structure’, ‘Philosophy and History of Psychoanalysis’, and ‘The Psychoanalytic Process and the Analyst’. Together they present his interpretation of the ‘Kleinian development’ from Freud, through Abraham and Klein, to Bion and the post-Kleinian model; and within this evolution, his view of the natural history of the psychoanalytic process, the aesthetics of the method, and his insights into the operation of the transference and countertransference.
Meltzer saw the psychoanalytic process as a new method that contributes alongside more traditional art-forms to our scientific knowledge of the mind. Working with both adults and children, he viewed psychoanalysis in developmental rather than narrowly therapeutic terms, with potential for both analyst and analysand. All his theories derived from clinical work, above all from dream-reading and children’s phantasy play; and owing to his extensive international teaching experience, his own material was enriched by that of many supervisees. This collection of papers, read as a whole, invites new readers to follow and partake in what he called ‘the most interesting conversation in the world’.
1. Why history? (1975)
2. On creativity (1992)
3. The post-Kleinian extension of Bion’s metapsychology (1986)
4. Dreaming as unconscious thinking (1984)
5. Psychoanalysis acknowledges its poetic forebears and joins the artistic family (1989)
6. Concerning the stupidity of evil (1988)
7. On thought disorders (1997)
8. Does Money-Kyrle’s conception of misconception have any unique descriptive power? (1981)
9. Concerning the distinction between conflicts of desire and paradoxes of thought (1987)
10. Bion’s Grid (1995)
11. Concerning signs and symbols (1995)
12. On symbol formation and allegory (2000)
13. Invention and discovery (2002)
15. APPENDIX: James Gammill’s recollections of the psychoanalytic training in the 1950s
Donald Meltzer (1923–2004) was born in New York and studied medicine at Yale. After practising as a psychiatrist specialising in children and families, he moved to England to have analysis with Melanie Klein in the 1950s, and for some years was a training analyst with the British Society. He worked with both adults and children, and was innovative in the treatment of autistic children; in the treatment of children he worked closely with Esther Bick and Martha Harris whom he later married. He taught child psychiatry and psychoanalytic history at the Tavistock Clinic. He also took a special scholarly interest in art and aesthetics, based on a lifelong love of art. Meltzer taught widely and regularly in many countries, in Europe, Scandinavia, and North and South America, and his books have been published in many languages and continue to be increasingly influential in the teaching of psychoanalysis.
His first book, The Psychoanalytical Process, was published by Heinemann in 1967 and was received with some suspicion (like all his books) by the psychoanalytic establishment. Subsequent books were published by Clunie Press for the Roland Harris Educational Trust which he set up together with Martha Harris (now the Harris Meltzer Trust). The Process was followed by Sexual States of Mind in 1973, Explorations in Autism in 1975; The Kleinian Development in 1978 (his lectures on Freud, Klein and Bion given to students at the Tavistock); Dream Life in 1984; The Apprehension of Beauty in 1988 (with Meg Harris Williams); and The Claustrum in 1992.
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