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The Life and Work of Joan Riviere: Freud, Klein and Female Sexuality

The Life and Work of Joan Riviere traces her journey from dressmaker’s apprentice, and member of the Society for Psychical Research, to Sigmund Freud’s patient and his favourite translator. Marion Bower examines Riviere’s important legacy and contribution to the early development of psychoanalysis.

Riviere was also a close friend and colleague of Melanie Klein and wrote her own highly original and influential papers on female sexuality and other topics, in particular Womanliness as a Masquerade (1929). Her position in the British Psychoanalytic Society was unusual as a direct link between Freud and Klein. Her own papers were extraordinarily prescient of developments in psychoanalysis, as well as the social climate of the time. Riviere’s experience as a dressmaker gave her an interest in female sexuality, and she proceeded to significantly challenge Freud’s views. She also defended Klein from ferocious attacks by Melitta Schmideberg (Klein´s daughter) and Anna Freud.

The Life and Work of Joan Riviere will appeal to anyone interested in the history of psychoanalysis as well as Riviere’s highly original perspectives involving feminist thought and female sexuality.

Author
Marion Bower has trained as a teacher, a social worker and an adult psychotherapist. She worked at the Tavistock Clinic for fourteen years and currently teaches at The Kleinian Association of Ireland, the British Psychotherapy Foundation and Making Research Count. She has edited or co-edited four books, including the Routledge titles Addictive States of Mind (2013) and What Social Workers Need to Know (2018).

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