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Hanna Segal

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Hanna Segal (born 1918 ) is a British psychoanalyst and a follower of Melanie Klein, who was president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and vice-president of the International Psychoanalytical Association . "Received wisdom suggests that she is the doyen of "classical" Kleinian thinking and technique."[1]

LifeEdit

Hanna Segal, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born in Lodz (Poland), from whence she had to flee in 1939, arriving in Great Britain (via Switzerland and France). Here she completed her medical studies and undertook psychoanalytic training, and an analysis with Melanie Klein, of whom she became a follower and of whose work she "offers...the clearest, most precise, and most understandable elucidation."[2] It is said that without her introductory works, Klein would not have become so famous, and would certainly have been far less accessible.

Segal also wrote on aesthetics, art, symbolism, war, and the September 11 attacks, producing several books and numerous articles, including

  • Introduction to the work of Melanie Klein (London 1964);
  • Klein (London: Fontana Modern Masters, 1979);
  • Melanie Klein (Glasgow 1979);
  • Clinical Psychoanalysis (Paris 2004);
  • Dream, Phantasy and Art (Paris 1993);
  • Delirium and Creativity (Paris 1986) (with Annik Comby).

Symbolism and artEdit

"Her work on the concept of the symbolic equation was instrumental in deciphering the 'grammar' of psychotic concreteness."[3] Here Segal emphasised the difference between the symbol as representative and the earlier stage of symbol as equivalent: "Only when separation and separateness are accepted does the symbol become the representative of the object rather than being equated with the object."[4]

Building on and extending her analysis of symbolism, "Hanna Segal... both applies and transforms Kleinian aesthetics."[5] Segal stresses that "one of the most important tasks of the artist is to create a world of his own", something which requires "an acute reality sense in two ways: first, towards his own inner reality...and secondly...of the reality of his medium."[6] She also emphasised "the importance of 'the ugly' in a work of art...'the destruction of good and whole objects and their change into persecutory fragments'".[7] For Segal, "a work of art has its source in the existence of a destroyed internal world and the desire to restore it."[8]

WarEdit

Segal explored the relationship of war "to the theme of ambivalence....One of the reasons that an enemy is needed is to sustain a paranoid attitude when the guilt and pain of depression cannot be faced."[9] Segal's "long interest in factors affecting war is pursued in her examination of the psychotic factors, symbolic significance and psychological impact of the events of September 11."[10]

CriticismEdit

A maverick Kleinian like Donald Meltzer was "interested in Hanna Segal's early work on symbols and symbolic equations, but felt it did not really develop further after that",[11] and certainly Segal was in the main content to work within the framework Klein had provided. If "Martin Bergmann talks about extenders, modifiers, and heretics"[12] in psychoanalytic theory, Hanna Segal was clearly in the first category with respect to Klein - a perhaps relatively modest extender whose long-term explication of the riches of Klein's thought meant nonetheless that "Segal's work exemplifies...that body of knowledge and research that forms the post-Kleinian development."[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. James Grotstein, But at the Same Time and on Another Level (London 2009) p. 45
  2. Grotstein, Same Time p. 44
  3. Grotstein, Same Time p. 44-5
  4. Hanna Segal, in Nicola Glover, "Psychoanalytic Aesthetics" Ch. 2
  5. L. Stonebridge/J. Phillips, Reading Melanie Klein(1998) p. 2
  6. Nicola Glover, "Psychoanalytic Aesthetics" Ch. 3
  7. Sandra Gosso, Psychoanalysis and Art (2004) p. 27
  8. Jean-Michel Quinodoz, Listening to Hanna Segal (2007) p. 21
  9. Hanna Segal and John Steiner, Psychoanalysis, Literature and War (1997) p. 13
  10. Hanna Segal and Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (20070 p. 1
  11. Meg Harris Williams, "An Introduction to Meltzer and his Concepts"
  12. Judy Ann Kaplan, "Freud's Legacy" in Joseph P. Merlino et al eds., Freud at 150 (Plymouth 2008) p. 69
  13. David Bell, Reason and Passion: a celebration of the work of Hanna Segal (London 1997) p. 2

External linksEdit

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