Melanie Klein

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About the book

Who the Hell is Melanie Klein? looks at one of the most controversial, powerful and influential figures within the heart of psychoanalysis. The first two chapters explore Klein the woman and intellectual, taking the reader through her life story and the ideas that influenced her thinking – many of which she was to dramatically overturn, driving a wedge into the heart of analytic thinking. Her three most important concepts – Splitting, Projective Identification and the Depressive Position – are explored in a highly accessible way, to enable a full understanding of their meaning and implications. A final chapter on her famous case study of a child reveals her ideas in action.

Chapter 1: Klein's Life Story

Chapter 2: Influences on Klein's Thinking

Chapter 3: Splitting
This chapter looks at Klein's theory on a primary defence mechanism that occurs from birth and continues to operate throughout life, focuses on objects both internally and externally. It is one of the cornerstones of Kleinian analysis and psychoanalysis in general.

Chapter 4: Projective Identification
Projective Identification is one of the key concepts of the psychoanalytical relationship (Self and Other) and has been described as the single most important phenomenon in individual psychotherapy. This chapter discusses Klein's theory in detail as well as its role in widening the notion of counter-transference.  

Chapter 5: The Depressive Position
This chapter covers Klein's theories on a child's developmental stages: the Depressive Position and the Paranoid-Schizoid Position, as well as her controversial thoughts on Freud's Oedipal Complex and how this plays out.

Chapter 6: Case Study of a Young Boy

This chapter explores one of Klein's case studies in detail, demonstrating the way that she worked, her interpretations in action, and how they affected the child both during and after analysis.

About the author

Lucy Etherington is a published writer and journalist with a BA in English and Drama from Goldsmith's University, London, and a BSc in Integrative Psychotherapeutic Counselling. She lives in Suffolk with her family and continues to research and write alongside running a private clinical practice as a psychotherapist.


"Psychology is my favourite subject, but so far at university we have focused a lot on old white men with beards! So, reading this book provided me with a little of the diversity that I was looking for in a subject I really enjoy learning about. As someone who particularly enjoys child psychology, this was an incredibly enjoyable read which included some other thinkers and their influences on her work. It was informative without being heavy on flowery psychological terms, which meant I didn’t have to be in a studious state of mind to read and enjoy it, yet I still managed to learn a great deal!"

Claire Allison | Masters student, Edinburgh University