Photograph of Jean-Michel Quinodoz

Jean-Michel Quinodoz

Jean-Michel Quinodoz is a training analyst in the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society and a Distinguished Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland.

Psychoanalytic career and editorial roles

Born in Sion, a small, picturesque town in the Swiss Alps, Quinodoz studied medicine in Geneva, specialising in psychiatry and psychotherapy. In 1960, he married the psychoanalyst Danielle Quinodoz, with whom he went on to have three children. Danielle was an important source of inspiration and support throughout his career, until her death in 2015. Quinodoz established his psychoanalytic practice in 1971 and, in 1979 became a member of the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society. From 1971 to 1999 he was also a Consultant in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Geneva.

Quinodoz’s multilingualism – he speaks French, German, English and Spanish – has played a central role in his career as an analyst and thinker, and has led him to develop strong connections with analysts and analytic traditions across Europe. In recognition of this outward-looking attitude, in 2010 Quinodoz received the Sigourney Award for his contributions to the development of psychoanalysis at the international level.

He continues to be closely involved in the training, supervision and encouragement of new analysts in the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society, and has been Chair of various International Psychoanalytical Association committees. In 1979 he launched the bilingual French-German Bulletin of the Swiss Psychoanalytical Society, and he plays an important editorial role in psychoanalytic publishing at an international level. In 1994 he became Editor for Europe of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (IJP) and, between 2003 and 2014, he was Editor-in-Chief of the European Annuals of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, a selection of articles translated and published in French, Italian, German, Russian, Turkish, Greek and Romanian.

Klein’s influence

Quinodoz has been deeply influenced by the work of Melanie Klein, as well as by Hanna Segal, who was both an eminent exponent of Klein’s theory and an important analytic thinker in her own right. Quinodoz was in supervision with Segal in Geneva, between 1979 and 1989. In an interview with her, which he conducted between 2004 and 2006, he explained that Klein’s ideas about early loss, depression and mourning had appealed to him since he first encountered them, and made sense of his own profound experience of loss as a child. Sigmund Freud has also been a dominant and consistent presence in Quinodoz’ thinking, and the numerous books and papers he has written on him attest to a long and profound engagement with the founder of psychoanalysis. Another rich influence on Quinodoz’ work are the Latin American Kleinians, whose work has contributed substantially to the development of his clinical style. He regularly quotes Horacio Etchegoyen on technique, and has made extensive use of Leon Grinberg’s concept of projective counter-identification.


Quinodoz’ first book, La solitude apprivoisée [The Taming of Solitude], gained wide recognition in the French-speaking psychoanalytical community when it came out in 1991. It forms an important contribution to Kleinian thought, as well as rendering Klein’s theory accessible and comprehensible to analysts working within the Francophone traditions, something many have found difficult to achieve. Through rigorous technique and linguistic sensitivity, Quinodoz was able to translate Klein’s body of concepts into French in a nuanced and faithful manner.

Several years later, Quinodoz’ wrote one of his most original and quoted works, Les rêves qui tournent une page [Dreams That Turn Over a Page] (2001). Here he examines the phenomenon of anxious or disturbing dreams that seem to signal a regression in the patient, yet which actually represent progress: they demonstrate that the patient is now able to symbolise for him- or herself deep-seated fears and phantasies. Quinodoz argues that the analyst must then work out whether a dream is one which ‘turns the page’, and make interpretations that encompass both its regressive elements and its connection to the analysand’s attainment of a certain level of integration. This work is typical of Quinodoz’ writing, in which the focus moves frequently and fluently between analyst and analysand, and between theory and clinical work, in a nuanced and illuminating manner.

Meanwhile, his most famous book, Lire Freud: Découverte chronologique de l’oeuvre de Freud [Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writings] (2005) has been translated into numerous languages. It provides a highly detailed, clear and thoughtful survey of Freud’s body of theory as it developed over his career, within its historical and ideological contexts. It also documents the depth and breadth of Quinodoz’ relationship with this theory over the course of his own analytic life.

Archival research

Alongside his theoretical writing, Quinodoz has also carried out important archival research, and recently published a collection of letters exchanged by Klein and the younger Swiss analyst, Marcelle Spira in the 1950s. In Melanie Klein, Lettres à Marcelle Spira [Melanie Klein and Marcelle Spira: Their Correspondence and Context] Quinodoz has brought together 45 letters between Klein and Spira, an analyst who worked in Argentina and Switzerland, and who was profoundly inspired by Klein’s theory. The correspondence, carefully edited and thoughtfully introduced by Quinodoz, traces the growth of the two analysts’ personal and professional relationship, and shows how Klein, at that time nearing the end of her life, was both energised by, and very encouraging of, the younger analyst. It also offers an interesting glimpse into Klein’s feelings about the future of her own work, her on-going conflict with those who opposed her theories, and her hopes for the development, translation and wider dissemination of her discoveries in psychoanalysis. In his foreword to the book Ron Britton describes it as, ‘moving, enlightening and historically important’, and of great value to historians and analysts, particularly those inspired by Klein. The collection of letters is deposited in the Melanie Klein archive at the Wellcome Library in London.

Eleanor Sawbridge-Burton, 2017

Key publications

2017 Quinodoz, J.M. Sigmund Freud. An Introduction. Routledge.

2013 Quinodoz, J.M. Melanie Klein and Marcelle Spira: Their Correspondence and Context. Routledge, 2015

2012 Quinodoz, J.M. ‘The European Annuals of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis: The Benefits of Linguistic Diversity’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 93:219-238.

2012 Quinodoz, J.M. ‘Projective Identification in contemporary French-language psychoanalysis’. In Spillius, E. and O’Shaughnessy, E. (ed.) Projective Identification: The Fate of a Concept. London & New York: Routledge.

2010 Quinodoz, J.M. ‘How Translations of Freud’s Writings Have Influenced French Psychoanalytic Thinking’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 91(4):695-716.

2008 Quinodoz, J.M. Listening to Hanna Segal. Her Contribution to Psychoanalysis. Routledge.

2005 Quinodoz, J.M. Marie des Collines. Slatkine.

2005 Quinodoz, J.M. Reading Freud: A Chronological Exploration of Freud’s Writings. Routledge.

2002 Quinodoz, J.M. Dreams that Turn Over a Page. Routledge.

1997 Quinodoz, J.M. ‘Transitions in Psychic Structures in the Light of Deterministic Chaos Theory’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 78:699–718.

1993 Quinodoz, J.M. The Taming of Solitude. Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis. Routledge.