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Beyond Repair: Interpretation, Reparation, and Melanie Klein's Clinical Play Technique

Laubender, Carolyn (2019) 'Beyond Repair: Interpretation, Reparation, and Melanie Klein's Clinical Play Technique.' Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 20 (1). pp. 51-67. ISSN 1524-0657

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This article puts clinical child psychoanalysis into conversation with recent debates about critical method in order to question the turn toward so-called “reparative reading” in feminist and queer theory. While Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s original call for a new kind of reparative method culled its key terms (“reparative” and “paranoid”) from child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, the scholars who have adopted reparativity in critical theory pay little attention to Klein’s work. In this article, I take up Klein’s theory of the depressive position and reparativity as she elaborated them in her clinical work with children, particularly her wartime analysis of “Richard” in 1941. Klein interpreted Richard’s play—his clinical “war games”—through her idiomatic vocabulary of “attack” and “repair.” By situating this case and Klein’s larger theory of psychic reparations in the political climate of wartime Europe, I argue that Klein’s writings point to the ethico-political dangers inherent in reparative endeavors, which name the object and narrate its injury and repair according only to the perimeters of one’s own self. From this reading, I propose that there might be a benefit to foregoing the injury/repair framework implicit in reparative agendas—both critical and clinical alike. By returning reparativity to Klein, I therefore aim not to offer a corrective to Sedgwick or to the scholars following her, but rather to interrogate the ethical stakes of all reparative endeavors, be they political, intellectual, or clinical. At the most basic level, then, this article argues that the space of the clinic is an important (and often undervalued) object for the consideration of critical method.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0500 Psychoanalysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2019 15:31
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:57

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