Photo of Claudia Frank

Claudia Frank

Psychoanalytic career

Privatdozentin Dr Claudia Frank is a medical doctor and International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) psychoanalyst in private practice in Stuttgart. She began studying medicine in Amiens, France, then spent a year in Vienna before completing her medical training in Würzburg. She went on to specialise in neurology and psychiatry.

Frank is now a training analyst of the Deutsche Psychoanalytische Vereinigung (DPV), and has served as chair of its training committee. She has a longstanding commitment to training, including conceptual work on the supervision relationship, and as chair of the central training committee initiated infant observation as an optional element in the DPV. As a strong advocate for the importance of the four-to-five weekly Eitingon model of psychoanalytic training, in the face of recent IPA reduction in requirements, she was among colleagues whose work eventually led to the Exchange Visit Project, exploring the actual functioning of the Eitingon model.

Between 1988 and 2001 Frank worked in the Department for Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the University of Tübingen, being in charge of the chair between 1998 and 2001. She has published widely about the technique, theory, history and applications of psychoanalysis, for example in papers about the Greek mythical figure Antigone, and the artists Alberto Giacometti and Giorgio Morandi. She was for many years co-editor of Jahrbuch der Psychoanalyse. Frank, often in collaboration with Heinz Weiss, has edited various German-language books on Kleinian analysis, including papers by many key British Kleinians as well as German Kleinian colleagues.

Pioneering work in the Klein archives

Frank was, with Heinz Weiss, one of the earliest scholars to research the Melanie Klein archives after they were placed in the Wellcome Library in London. Weiss became aware of the archives when he was working at the Tavistock Clinic in 1992, and soon drew Frank’s attention to them. He asked her to join him in organising a psychoanalytic conference in Würzburg in 1994, to mark the 70th anniversary of the ‘First German Conference of Psychoanalysis’ in 1924. In the archives, Frank’s attention was drawn by Weiss to the original version of the paper Klein had given at that conference, about her famous six-year-old patient ‘Erna’. In 1996 they co-published a paper based on her research into Klein’s paper. During the remainder of the 1990s, Frank spent a lot of time in meticulous and painstaking study of Klein’s adult and child material.

Elizabeth Spillius describes how in her first visit to the Klein archives in 1994, Frank ‘was captured – a victim to archival research’ (Frank 2009, Spillius preface p. xii). Over the next few years, as Spillius describes, Frank visited London and the Klein archives more than twenty times, usually for long weekends, much of which were spent reading, photocopying and transcribing Klein’s (often handwritten) notes and papers. This led Frank to develop her own work by entering supervision with a number of senior Kleinian analysts. On the basis of some of the child material, in 1999 she published a groundbreaking study of Klein’s early work with children in Berlin: Melanie Kleins erste Kinderanalysen: Die Entdekung des Kindes als Object sui generis von Heilen und Forschen. With some changes in the arrangement and content of the early chapters – stemming from the different background of child analysis in English-speaking countries – the book was translated into English by Sophie Leighton, and published in 2009 as Melanie Klein in Berlin: Her First Psychoanalyses of Children.

Frank was the first to draw the attention of Spillius, then archivist of the Melanie Klein Trust, to Klein’s unpublished lectures on adult technique, which have gone on to be published by John Steiner in his Lectures on Technique by Melanie Klein (Routledge, 2017).

In the course of her work Frank uncovered much fascinating material, which has formed the basis of her many papers on Klein’s unpublished work. Initially, many of her new discoveries concerning Klein’s adult work were available only to those who could read German. However, in 2020 three key papers were translated into English, and became chapters in Jane Milton’s edited volume, Essential Readings from the Melanie Klein Archives (Routledge, 2020). Chapter 6 is entitled, ‘On Melanie Klein’s contemporaneous references to Hitler and the Second World War in her therapeutic sessions’. Chapter 7 is, ‘On reassurance: An unpublished paper by Melanie Klein (1933)’, while Chapter 8 is entitled, ‘Is it an animal inside? Melanie Klein’s unpublished Don Juan paper (1939)’. A number of other important papers remain still to be translated.

Frank’s meticulous and creative work places her among the foremost of Klein scholars.

Jane Milton, 2020

Key publications

1996 Frank, C. and Weiss, H. ‘The origins of disquieting discoveries by Melanie Klein: the possible significance of the case of ErnaInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis. 77: 1101-1126.

1999 Frank, C. Melanie Kleins erste Kinderanalysen: Die Entdekung des Kindes als Object sui generis von Heilen und Forschen. Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog Verlag. (Published in English in 2009 as Melanie Klein in Berlin: Her First Psychoanalyses of Children. London: Routledge.)

2006 Frank, C. ‘Serious things to be faced’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 87: 637-639.

2007 Frank, C. ‘“I want a child!” Concerning problems of informed consent in fertility treatment‘. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. 21: 150-167.

2015 Frank, C. ‘On the reception of the concept of the death instinct in Germany: expressing and resisting an “Evil principle”?International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 96: 425-444.

2016 Frank, C. ‘Herbert Rosenfeld in Germany: On the seductive/corruptive effect of idealising destructive elements then and now‘. International Forum on Psychoanalysis. 25: 229-240.

2018 Frank, C. ‘Getting to know splitting as an organising unconscious phantasy – then and today‘. In Garvey, P. and Long, K. (eds) The Klein Tradition. Lines of Development – Evolution of Theory and Practice over the Decades. London, New York: Routledge.

2020 Frank, C. ‘Melanie Klein’s contemporaneous references to Hitler and the Second World War in her therapeutic sessions‘, ‘An unpublished contribution of Melanie Klein on reassurance‘ and ‘Melanie Klein’s unpublished ‘Don Juan’ paper‘. In Milton, J. (ed) Essential Readings from the Melanie Klein Archives: Original Papers and Critical Reflections. London: Routledge.