Julia Segal is a counsellor for people with physical illnesses and disabilities in London, UK

Melanie Klein

My relationship with the work of Melanie Klein began in 1969 when I attended a series of lectures at the University of Cambridge, in which psychoanalysts introduced the ideas of Freud and Klein and their relevance to everday life.  I then read a paper by Hanna Segal, on Golding’s The Spire and followed up with a guided study of the works of Freud and Klein. I was completely hooked: these ideas made sense of my life so far.  They still do, more than forty years later.   In 1980 I began teaching Klein’s ideas in Manchester and have continued to do so ever since, in many parts of the world.

All of my papers and books rely on the ideas of Klein, as interpreted through the teaching of Hanna Segal (and many other Kleinian analysts), and through my own experience of using these ideas in a counselling setting.

I wrote one of the standard texts for Counselling and Psychotherapy students on the ideas of Melanie Klein:

Segal, Julia 1992. 2nd Edition 2004.  Melanie Klein:  Key Figures in Counselling and Psychotherapy. London, Sage Publications.  (This has been published in Japanese, Polish, Korean, Chinese (complex character) and Chinese (simplified character).  )

In 1985 I began to work as a counsellor for a charity run by and for people with Multiple Sclerosis.  One of the papers which came out of this work combined Klein’s concept of Unconscious Phantasy with my observations as a counsellor for people with MS.  This was about the symbolism of physical illness – a topic which owed much to the work of Hanna Segal as well as Klein.

Segal, J.C. 1991  Use of the concept of Unconscious Phantasy in understanding reactions to chronic illness.  Counselling: Vol 2 no 4 Nov 1991 pp. 146-149  Republished in The BAC Counselling Reader, eds S Palmer, S.Dainow and P Milner.  1996  Sage Publications, London.  Reprinted by Karnac books.

I then looked more directly at the role played by projective identification in relationships affected by MS.

Segal, J.C. (2003) ‘Your feelings or mine? Projective identification in a context of counselling families living with multiple sclerosis.  Psychodynamic Practice 9 (2) : 153-171  ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1353333031000104794 )


Segal JC 1996 Whose Disability? Counter-Transference in work with people with disabilities  in Psychodynamic Counselling 2.2 May pp 155-166   ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14753639608411271  )

I became interested in the effects on children of having an ill parent, and found in Melanie Klein’s Narrative of Child Analysis a report of a child whose father had some kind of seizure while the child was in analysis with Klein.  I wrote about this in:

Segal, J.C. 1998 The role of a parent’s illness in the emotional experience of a child: evidence from Klein’s Narrative of a Child AnalysisPsychodynamic Counselling4. Nov 1998. pp487-504  Paper written for the 80th birthday of Hanna Segal. ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13533339808402525  )

 I am very grateful to my clients and my colleagues, (and particularly to John Simkins who ran the charity which introduced me to MS in 1985), for the opportunity to listen and to learn so much about the effects of MS on the mind and lives of those who live with it or work with it.  I am also very grateful to the analysts who have supervised me and shared their wisdom, especially Hanna Segal, Elizabeth Spillius, Anton Obholzer, Isabel Menzies-Lyth, John Steiner, John Lawrence and Ruth Malcolm.


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