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Hanna Segal (born Hanna Poznanska; 20 August 1918 – 5 July 2011) was a British psychoanalyst and a follower of Melanie Klein. She was president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and vice-president of the International Psychoanalytical Association. James Grotstein considered that “Received wisdom suggests that she is the doyen of "classical" Kleinian thinking and technique.”
Hanna Segal, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born in Lodz (Poland), from where 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 was the clearest expounder. It is said that without her introductory works, Klein would not have become so famous, and would certainly have been far less accessible.
- 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 art
Segal emphasised the difference between the symbol as representative and the earlier stage of symbol as equivalent, stating that “only when separation and separateness are accepted does the symbol become the representative of the object rather than being equated with the object.” The earlier stage of symbolic equation was by contrast typical of concrete psychotic thinking.
Building on and extending her analysis of symbolism, Segal made further contributions to Kleinian aesthetics. 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.” She also emphasised the role of the ugly in artistic creation, as a reflection of the fragmenting of good objects into persecutory ones, seeing the roots of artistic creation in the desire to restore a fragmented inner world.
Segal explored the relationship of war to the contrast between the paranoid and depressive positions in Kleinian thought, highlighting the usefulness of the role of an identified enemy in warding off the subjective pain of depression. Segal continued her lengthy examination of the relationship between psychological factors and war in her work on the symbolic significance of the events of September 11.
A maverick Kleinian like Donald Meltzer thought that Segal's work did not really develop much beyond her early consideration of symbols and symbolic equations; and certainly Segal was in the main content to work within the framework Klein had provided. In terms of the distinction sometimes drawn between extenders, modifiers, and heretics in psychoanalytic theory, Hanna Segal clearly fell into the first category with respect to Klein. Her long-term explication of the riches of Klein's thought nevertheless meant that Segal's work stands close to the core of post-Kleinian research and development.
- James Grotstein, But at the Same Time and on Another Level (London 2009) p. 45
- Grotstein, Same Time p. 44
- Hanna Segal, in Nicola Glover, "Psychoanalytic Aesthetics" Ch. 2
- Grotstein, Same Time p. 44-5
- L. Stonebridge/J. Phillips, Reading Melanie Klein(1998) p. 2
- Nicola Glover, "Psychoanalytic Aesthetics" Ch. 3
- Sandra Gosso, Psychoanalysis and Art (2004) p. 27
- Jean-Michel Quinodoz, Listening to Hanna Segal (2007) p. 21
- Hanna Segal and John Steiner, Psychoanalysis, Literature and War (1997) p. 13
- Hanna Segal and Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (20070 p. 1
- Meg Harris Williams, "An Introduction to Meltzer and his Concepts"
- Judy Ann Kaplan, "Freud's Legacy" in Joseph P. Merlino et al eds., Freud at 150 (Plymouth 2008) p. 69
- David Bell, Reason and Passion: a celebration of the work of Hanna Segal (London 1997) p. 2
Hanna Segal, 'A Psychoanalytical Approach to Aesthetics' International Journal of Psychoanalysis 23 (1952)
Hanna Segal, 'Notes on Symbol Formation' International Journal of Psychoanalysis 38 (1957) 391-405
Elaine Baruch, Women Analyse Women (1991) Chapter 12 'Hanna Segal'