Photograph of Rachel Blass

Rachel B Blass

Professor Rachel Blass is a training analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She was born in New York, studied clinical psychology and philosophy in Jerusalem and Boston, and after completing her analytic training, spent eight years in London, which further grounded and informed her London Kleinian perspective. She currently lives and works in Jerusalem.

Clarifying Kleinian theory and practice

Blass is well known for her contribution to the conceptualisation and clarification of Kleinian psychoanalysis and its foundations. Her work develops a rich understanding of Kleinian thinking and practice, which accentuates its contemporary value, meaning and clinical significance. She incisively examines the Kleinian view of the person, elucidating the poignant and passionate predicament of his inner world, the depths of his mind, and the possibilities of these changing through analysis. She writes of all this in a distinctively clear and inspiring style that allows for an immediate ‘here and now’ grasp of intricate ideas, for an appreciation of the ideational core that unifies these ideas, which in turn stimulates further reflection on them.

Elaborating the notion of truth

Among the topics Blass has addressed are mind and meaning, unconscious phantasy, narcissism, the death instinct, repetition compulsion, the notion of ‘goodness’ and the person’s basic desire for truth and the possibility of his coming to know it. Blass is particularly concerned with the latter, elaborating the conception of the Kleinian notion of truth as a form of lived knowledge, a relationship of the mind to reality that emerges primarily under the sway of Eros. Blass maintains that this notion of truth and its crucial role in analytic theory and practice has been misunderstood and downplayed or put into question by other approaches, much to the detriment of the development of analytic thinking and practice.

Understanding the clinical situation

Blass’ work highlights how the Kleinian view of the person is inherently tied to technique and to the understanding of the analytic situation and the curative process. Through in-depth, detailed expositions of these clinical aspects she offers a refined understanding of Kleinian practice and how and why it works, particularly how truth, properly understood and applied in the analytic situation, has the potential to cure. Her work in this context explains important differences among Kleinians and between Kleinian analysis and other schools. In distinguishing Kleinian psychoanalysis, Blass, who is also a Freud scholar, highlights how this approach not only advances Freud’s thinking, but actually articulates latent dimensions of what constitutes the very essence of psychoanalysis as put forth by Freud. In discussing this shared essence Blass promotes the notion of a ‘Freudian-Kleinian’ approach.

Teaching and writing

Many of Blass’ texts have a significant educational quality; they take readers on a path that not only facilitates gain of knowledge, but rather opens and expands their way of thinking, allowing them to internalise new ideas and forms of practice. More generally, teaching and training is a central aspect of Blass’ work and contribution. Through workshops and lectures as well as ongoing seminars, supervisions and courses (academic and clinical) she has promoted deeper understanding of Kleinian psychoanalysis and has advanced its meaningful practice in many contexts around the world.

Blass is one of the most prolific contemporary Kleinian authors; her writings have been translated into many languages and are taught in institutes around the world.

Francis Grier, 2020

Key publications

2011 Blass, R. B. ‘On the immediacy of unconscious truth: Understanding Betty Joseph’s “here and now” through comparison with alternative views of it outside of and within Kleinian thinking‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 92(5): 1137-1157.

2011 Blass, R. B. ‘An introduction to ‘The value of ‘late Bion’ to analytic theory and practice’‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 92(5): 1081-1088. 

2012 Blass, R. B. ‘The ego according to Klein: Return to Freud and beyond‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 93(1): 151-166.

2014 Blass, R. B. ‘On “the fear of death” as the primary anxiety: How and why Klein differs from Freud‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 95(4): 613-627.

2015 Blass, R. B. ‘Conceptualizing splitting: On the different meanings of splitting and their implications for the understanding of the person and the analytic process‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 96(1): 123-139.

2016 Blass, R. B. ‘The quest for truth as the foundation of psychoanalytic practice: A traditional, Freudian-Kleinian perspective‘. Psychoanalytic Quarterly. 85(2): 305-337.

2017 Blass, R. B. ‘Reflections on Klein’s radical notion of phantasy and its implications for analytic practice‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 98(3): 841-859.

2017 Blass, R. B. ‘Bion as a Kleinian: An elaboration of the phantasy of the mind in “Attacks on linking”‘. In C. Bronstein & E. O’Shaughnessy (eds) Attacks on Linking Revisited. London: Karnac Press. pp. 55-74.

2018 Blass, R. B. ‘The teaching of Klein: Some guidelines for opening students to the heart of Kleinian thinking and practice‘. In P. Garvey & K. Long (eds). The Kleinian Tradition. London: Karnac Press. pp. 73-20.

2018 Blass, R. B. ‘Introduction to “A special section on Lectures on Technique by Melanie Klein”‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 99(4): 947-951.

2019 Blass, R. B. ‘Freud’s writing as a living creative presence in our minds: An introduction to Joan Riviere’s “A character trait of Freud’s”‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 100(4): 635-636.

2019 Blass, R. B. ‘Freud’s view of death and repetition as grounds of the Kleinian approach to narcissism: implications for clinical practice‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis [online]. 100(6): 1286-1307.

2020 Blass, R. B. ‘The role of repetition in narcissism and self-sacrifice: A Freudian-Kleinian reflection on the person’s foundational love of the other‘. International Journal of Psychoanalysis [online]. 101(6): 1188-1202.