Reading list: Symbol formation

Key papers by Freud and Klein

For full references for Melanie Klein’s works see Melanie Klein’s publications.

1895 Freud, S. and Breuer, J. Studies in Hysteria. Translated from the German and edited by J. Strachey and A. Strachey. New York: Basic Books (1957). Symptom formation through symbolisation.

1900 Freud, S. The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 4. Hogarth Press (1953). The importance of symbolism in dreams.

1923a Klein, M. ‘The role of the school in the libidinal development of the child’. Learning is inhibited when words and numbers are imbued with frightening, concrete symbolic significance.

1923b Klein, M. ‘Early analysis’. Contrary to Jones, Klein concludes that symbolism is the foundation of all sublimation.

1929a Klein, M. ‘Personification in the play of children’. Symbolisation in play.

1929b Klein, M. ‘Infantile anxiety-situations in a work of art and in the creative impulse’. Symbolisation in play.

1930 Klein, M. The importance of symbol formation in the development of the ego’. Klein’s definitive statement on symbol formation.

Key papers by Segal

1952 Segal, H. ‘A psychoanalytic approach to aesthetics’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 33: 196-207; republished in M. Klein, P. Heimann and R. Money-Kyrle (eds.) New Directions in Psychoanalysis. Tavistock (1955); and in The Work of Hanna Segal. New York: Jason Aronson (1981). The link between the aesthetics and the depressive position.

1957 Segal, H. ‘Notes on symbol formation’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 38: 391-397; republished in The Work of Hanna Segal. New York: Jason Aronson (1981) and in E. Spillius (ed.) Melanie Klein Today, Vol. 1. Routledge (1988). Landmark paper on symbolisation.

1974 Segal, H. ‘Delusion and artistic creativity’, International Review of Psychoanalysis. 1: 135-141; republished in The Work of Hanna Segal. New York: Jason Aronson (1981) and in E. Spillius (ed.) Melanie Klein Today, Vol. 2. Routledge (1988). Golding’s novel The Spire is used to explore some aspects of creativity.

1979 Segal, H. Postscript to ‘Notes on symbol formation’. The Work of Hanna Segal. New York: Jason Aronson. Segal refines her 1957 symbol theory in terms of Bion’s container and contained.

Further exploration

Bion, W. (1962a) ‘A theory of thinking’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 43: 306-310.

Bion, W. (1962b) Learning from Experience. London: Heinemann.

Britton, R. (1998) ‘Daydream, phantasy and fiction’, in Belief and Imagination. London: Routledge, pp. 109-119.

Freud, S. (1895) ‘Project for a scientific psychology’. S. E. 1. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 283-397.

Freud, S. (1916) ‘Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis’. S. E. 15. London: Hogarth Press, p. 153.

Jones, E. (1916) ‘The theory of symbolism’. British Journal of Psychology. 9: 181-229.

Jones, E. (1948) ‘The theory of symbolism’, in Papers on Psychoanalysis. London: Maresfield Reprints, pp. 87-144.

Rickman, J. (1940) ‘On the nature of ugliness and the creative process’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 21: 294-313.

Sharpe, E. (1930) ‘Certain aspects of sublimation and delusion’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 11: 12-23.

Sharpe, E. (1935) ‘Similar and divergent unconscious determinants underlying the sublimations of pure art and pure science’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 16: 186-202.