Melanie Klein

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Melanie Klein
Melanie Klein 1952.jpg
Melanie Klein in 1952
Born
Melanie Reizes

(1882-03-30)30 March 1882
Died22 September 1960(1960-09-22) (aged 78)
London, England
Known forTherapeutic techniques for children
Coining the term 'reparation'
Klein's theory splitting
Projective identification
Scientific career
Fields Psychoanalysis
Influences Sigmund Freud
Karl Abraham
Influenced

Melanie Klein (née Reizes; 30 March 1882 – 22 September 1960) was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst known for her work in child analysis. She was the primary figure in the development of object relations theory. Klein suggested that pre-verbal existential anxiety in infancy catalyzed the formation of the unconscious, resulting in the unconscious splitting of the world into good and bad idealizations. In her theory, how the child resolves that split depends on the constitution of the child and the character of nurturing the child experiences; the quality of resolution can inform the presence, absence, and/or type of distresses a person experiences later in life. [1]

Contents

Life

Melanie Klein c. 1900 Melanie Klein c1900.jpg
Melanie Klein c. 1900

Melanie Klein was born into a Jewish family and spent most of her early life in Vienna. She was the fourth and final child of parents Moriz, a doctor, and Libussa Reizes. [2] Educated at the Gymnasium, Klein planned to study medicine.[ citation needed ] Her family's loss of wealth caused her to change her plans.

At the age of 21 she married an industrial chemist, Arthur Klein, and soon after gave birth to their first child, Melitta. Her son Hans followed in 1907 and her second son Erich was born in 1914. While she would go on to bear two additional children, Klein suffered from clinical depression, with these pregnancies taking quite a toll on her. This and her unhappy marriage soon led Klein to seek treatment. Shortly after her family moved to Budapest in 1910, Klein began a course of therapy with psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. It was during their time together that Klein expressed interest in the study of psychoanalysis.

Encouraged by Ferenczi, Klein began her studies by observing her own children. [3] Until this time, only minimal documentation existed on the topic of psychoanalysis in children, Klein took advantage of this by developing her "play technique". Similar to that of free association in adult psychoanalysis, Klein's play technique sought to interpret the unconscious meaning behind the play and interaction of children.

During 1921, with her marriage failing, Klein moved to Berlin where she joined the Berlin Psycho-Analytic Society under the tutelage of Karl Abraham. Although Abraham supported her pioneering work with children, neither Klein nor her ideas received much support in Berlin. As a divorced woman whose academic qualifications did not even include a bachelor's degree, Klein was a visible iconoclast within a profession dominated by male physicians. Nevertheless, Klein's early work had a strong influence on the developing theories and techniques of psychoanalysis, particularly in Great Britain.[ citation needed ]

Her theories on human development and defense mechanisms were a source of controversy, as they conflicted with Freud's theories on development, and caused much discussion in the world of developmental psychology. Around the same time Klein presented her ideas, Anna Freud was doing the very same. The two became unofficial rivals of sorts, amid the protracted debates between the followers of Klein and the followers of Freud. Amid these so-called 'controversial discussions', the British Psychoanalytical Society split into three separate training divisions: (1) Kleinian, (2) Freudian, and (3) Independent. These debates finally ceased with an agreement on a dual approach to instruction in the field of child analysis.

Contributions to psychoanalysis

Melanie Klein c. 1927 Melanie Klein c1927.jpg
Melanie Klein c. 1927
A dinner to celebrate Melanie Klein's 70th birthday A dinner to celebrate Melanie Klein's 70th birthday. Wellcome L0016246.jpg
A dinner to celebrate Melanie Klein's 70th birthday

Klein was one of the first to use traditional psychoanalysis with young children. She was innovative in both her techniques [4] (such as working with children using toys) and her theories on infant development. Gaining the respect of those in the academic community, Klein established a highly influential training program in psychoanalysis.

By observing and analyzing the play and interactions of children, Klein built onto the work of Freud's unconscious mind. Her dive into the unconscious mind of the infant yielded the findings of the early Oedipus complex, as well as the developmental roots of the superego.

Klein's theoretical work incorporates Freud's belief in the existence of the death pulsation, reflecting the notion that all living organisms are inherently drawn toward an "inorganic" state, and therefore, somehow, towards death. In psychological terms, Eros (properly, the life pulsation), the postulated sustaining and uniting principle of life, is thereby presumed to have a companion force, Thanatos (death pulsation), which seeks to terminate and disintegrate life. Both Freud and Klein regarded these "biomental" forces as the foundations of the psyche. These primary unconscious forces, whose mental matrix is the id, spark the ego—the experiencing self—into activity. Id, ego and superego, to be sure, were merely shorthand terms (similar to the instincts) referring to highly complex and mostly uncharted psychodynamic operations.

Infant observations

Klein’s work on the importance of observing infants began in 1935 with a public lecture on weaning.

Klein states that mother–infant relationships are built on more than feeding and developing the infant’s attachment; the mother’s attachment and bond with her baby is just as important, if not more. Klein came to this conclusion by using actual observations of  herself and mothers that she knew. She described how infants show interest in their mothers' face, the touch of their mothers' hands, and the infants' pleasure in touching their mothers' breast. The relationship is built on affection that emerges very soon after birth. Klein says that as early as two months, infants show interest in the mother that goes beyond feeding. She observed that the infant will often smile up at the mother and cuddle against her chest. The way the infant reacts and responds to their mother's attitude and feelings, the love and interest which the infant shows, accounts for an object relation.

Klein also goes on to say that infants recognize the joy that their achievements give their parents. These achievements include crawling and walking. In one observation, Klein says that the infant wishes to evoke love in their mother with their achievements. The infant wishes to give her pleasure. Klein says that the infant notices that their smile makes their mother happy and results in the attention of her. The infant also recognizes that their smile may serve a better purpose than their cry.

Klein also talks about the "apathetic" baby. She says that it is easy to mistake a baby that does not particularly dislike their food and cries a little for a happy baby. Development later shows that some of these easy-going babies are not happy. Their lack of crying may be due to some kind of apathy. It is hard to assess a young person's state of mind without allowing for a great complexity of emotions. When these babies are followed up on we see that a great deal of difficulty appears. These children are often shy of people, and their interest in the external world, play, and learning is inhibited. They are often slow at learning to crawl and walk because there seems to be little incentive. They are often showing signs of neurosis as their development goes on. [5]

Child analysis

While Freud's ideas concerning children mostly came from working with adult patients, Klein was innovative in working directly with children, often as young as two years old. Klein saw children's play as their primary mode of emotional communication. While observing children play with toys such as dolls, animals, plasticine, pencil and paper, Klein documented their activities and interactions, then attempted to interpret the unconscious meaning behind their play. Following Freud she emphasized the significant role that parental figures played in the child's fantasy life, and considered that the timing of Freud's Oedipus complex was incorrect. Contradicting Freud, she concluded that the superego was present from birth.

After exploring ultra-aggressive fantasies of hate, envy, and greed in very young and disturbed children, Melanie Klein proposed a model of the human psyche that linked significant oscillations of state, with the postulated Eros or Thanatos pulsations. She named the state of the psyche in which the sustaining principle of life is in domination the depressive position. This is considered by many to be her great contribution to psychoanalytic thought. She later developed her ideas about an earlier developmental psychological state corresponding to the disintegrating tendency of life, which she called the paranoid-schizoid position. [6]

Klein's insistence on regarding aggression as an important force in its own right when analysing children brought her into conflict with Freud's daughter Anna Freud, who was one of the other prominent child psychotherapists in continental Europe but who moved to London in 1938 where Klein had been working for several years. Many controversies arose from this conflict, and these are often referred to as the controversial discussions. Battles were played out between the two sides, each presenting scientific papers, working out their respective positions and where they differed, during war-time Britain. A compromise was eventually reached whereby three distinct training groups were formed within the British Psychoanalytical Society, with Anna Freud's influence remaining largely predominant in the US

Object relation theory

Melanie Klein and Anna Freud Portrait of Melanie Klein & A. Freud (cropped).jpg
Melanie Klein and Anna Freud

Klein is known to be one of the primary founders of object relations theory. [7] This theory of psychoanalysis is based on the assumption that all individuals have within them an internalized, and primarily unconscious realm of relationships. These relationships refer not only to the world around the individual, but more specifically to other individuals surrounding the subject. Object relation theory focuses primarily on the interaction individuals have with others, how those interactions are internalized, and how these now internalized object relations affect one's psychological framework. The term "object" refers to the potential embodiment of fear, desire, envy or other comparable emotions. The object and the subject are separated, [8] allowing for a more simplistic approach to addressing the deprived areas of need when used in the clinical setting.

Klein’s approach differed from Anna Freuds ego-psychology approach. Klein explored the interpersonal aspect of the structural model. In the mid-1920s, she thought differently about the first mode of defense. Klein thought it was expulsion while Freud said speculated it was repression (Stein, 1990). Klein suggested that the infant could relate to its mother from birth which were deemed either “good” or “bad” and internalized as archaic part-object. Out of this, a phantasy life develops in the infant.  Because of this, Klein’s beliefs required her to proclaim that an ego exists from birth that enables an infant to relate to others early in life (Likierman & Urban, 1999).

Influence on feminism

In Dorothy Dinnerstein’s book The Mermaid and the Minotaur (1976) (also published in the UK as The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World), drawing from elements of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, particularly as developed by Klein, Dinnerstein argued that sexism and aggression are both inevitable consequences of child rearing being left exclusively to women. [9] As a solution, Dinnerstein proposed that men and women equally share infant and child care responsibilities. [10] This book became a classic of U.S. second-wave feminism and was later translated into seven languages. [11]

Bibliography

Melanie Klein's works are collected in four volumes:

Books on Melanie Klein:*

See also

Related Research Articles

Fantasy (psychology) Mental faculty of drawing imagination and desire in the human brain

In psychology, fantasy is a broad range of mental experiences, mediated by the faculty of imagination in the human brain, and marked by an expression of certain desires through vivid mental imagery. Fantasies are typically associated with scenarios that are statistically implausible or impossible in reality.

Psychoanalysis Psychological theory and therapy established by Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis is a pseudoscientific set of theories and therapeutic techniques used to study the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought. Freud's work stems partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud, such as Alfred Adler and his collaborator, Carl Gustav Jung, as well as by neo-Freudian thinkers, such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Harry Stack Sullivan.

Psychoanalytic theory is the theory of personality organization and the dynamics of personality development that guides psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology. First laid out by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work. Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence in the last third of the twentieth century as part of the flow of critical discourse regarding psychological treatments after the 1960s, long after Freud's death in 1939. Freud had ceased his analysis of the brain and his physiological studies and shifted his focus to the study of the mind and the related psychological attributes making up the mind, and on treatment using free association and the phenomena of transference. His study emphasized the recognition of childhood events that could influence the mental functioning of adults. His examination of the genetic and then the developmental aspects gave the psychoanalytic theory its characteristics. Starting with his publication of The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, his theories began to gain prominence.

Anna Freud Austrian-British psychoanalyst & essayist

Anna Freud was a British psychoanalyst of Austrian-Jewish descent. She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Hermine Hug-Hellmuth and Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology.

Donald Winnicott English paediatrician and psychoanalyst

Donald Woods Winnicott was an English paediatrician and psychoanalyst who was especially influential in the field of object relations theory and developmental psychology. He was a leading member of the British Independent Group of the British Psychoanalytical Society, President of the British Psychoanalytical Society twice, and a close associate of Marion Milner.

In psychoanalysis, introjection refers to an unconscious process wherein one takes components of another person's identity, such as feelings, experiences and cognitive functioning, and transfers them inside themselves, making such experiences part of their new psychic structure. These components are obliterated from consciousness (splitting), perceived in someone else (projection), and then experienced and performed by that other person. Cognate concepts are identification, incorporation and internalization.

Object relations theory

Object relations theory in psychoanalytic psychology is the process of developing a psyche in relation to others in the childhood environment. It designates theories or aspects of theories that are concerned with the exploration of relationships between real and external people as well as internal images and the relations found in them. It maintains that the infant's relationship with the mother primarily determines the formation of its personality in adult life. Particularly, the need for attachment is the bedrock of the development of the self or the psychic organization that creates the sense of identity.

Countertransference relational aspect of psychoanalysis

Countertransference is defined as redirection of a psychotherapist's feelings toward a client – or, more generally, as a therapist's emotional entanglement with a client.

In development psychology, Melanie Klein proposed a "(psychic) position theory" instead of a "(psychic) stage theory".

Karl Abraham

Karl Abraham was an influential German psychoanalyst, and a collaborator of Sigmund Freud, who called him his 'best pupil'.

Splitting is the failure in a person's thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism. The individual tends to think in extremes.

Edith Jacobson

Edith Jacobson was a German psychoanalyst. Her major contributions to psychoanalytic thinking dealt with the development of the sense of identity and self-esteem and with an understanding of depression and psychosis. She was able to integrate the tripartite structural model of classic psychoanalysis with the theory of object relations into a revised drive theory. Thereby, she increased the treatment possibilities of the more disturbed pre-oedipal patients.

Love and hate as co-existing forces have been thoroughly explored within the literature of psychoanalysis, building on awareness of their co-existence in Western culture reaching back to the “odi et amo” of Catullus, and Plato's Symposium.

Robert Douglas Hinshelwood is an English psychiatrist and academic. He is a Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex. He trained as a doctor and psychiatrist. He has taken an interest in the Therapeutic Community movement since 1974, and was founding editor of The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, having edited. with Nick Manning, Therapeutic Communities: Reflections and Progress.

Donald Meltzer (1922–2004) was a Kleinian psychoanalyst whose teaching made him influential in many countries. He became known for making clinical headway with difficult childhood conditions such as autism, and also for his theoretical innovations and developments. His focus on the role of emotionality and aesthetics in promoting mental health has led to his being considered a key figure in the "post-Kleinian" movement associated with the psychoanalytic theory of thinking created by Wilfred Bion.

Oedipus complex a childs unconscious sexual desire for the parent

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and coined the expression in his A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910). The positive Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent. The negative Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent and hatred for the opposite-sex parent. Freud considered that the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful outcome of the complex and that unsuccessful outcome of the complex might lead to neurosis, and pedophilia.

Joan Riviere

Joan Hodgson Riviere was a British psychoanalyst, who was both an early translator of Freud into English and an influential writer on her own account.

Hanna Segal was a British psychoanalyst of Polish descent and a follower of Melanie Klein. She was president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, vice-president of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and was appointed to the Freud Memorial Chair at University College, London (UCL) in 1987. The American psychoanalyst James Grotstein considered that "received wisdom suggests that she is the doyen of "classical" Kleinian thinking and technique." The BBC broadcaster Sue Lawley introduced her as "one of the most distinguished psychological theorists of our time,"

The term reparation was used by Melanie Klein (1921) to indicate a psychological process of making mental repairs to a damaged internal world. In object relations theory, it represents a key part of the movement from the paranoid-schizoid position to the depressive position — the pain of the latter helping to fuel the urge to reparation.

Robert Waelder (1900–1967) was a noted Austrian psychoanalyst and member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Waelder studied under Anna Freud and Hermann Nunberg. He was known for his work bringing together psychoanalysis and politics and wrote extensively on the subject.

References

  1. R. D. Hinshelwood: Clinical Klein, Basic Books, 2003, ISBN   978-0465029754
  2. "melanie klein trust". www.melanie-klein-trust.org.uk. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  3. "Biography of Melanie Klein" . Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  4. Horacio Etchegoyen: The Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique, Karnac Books ed., New Ed, 2005, ISBN   1-85575-455-X
  5. Sherwin-White, Susan (January 2017). "Melanie Klein and infant observation". Infant Observation. 20 (1): 5–26. doi:10.1080/13698036.2017.1311235. ISSN   1369-8036. S2CID   152199987.
  6. Dillon, M. C. (1978). "Merleau-Ponty and the Psychogenesis of the Self". Journal of Phenomenological Psychology. 9 (1–2): 84–98. doi:10.1163/156916278X00032.
  7. "Biography of Melanie Klein". www.apadivisions.org. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  8. Joan Berzoff; Laura Melano Flanagan; Patricia Hertz (2016). Inside out and outside in : psychodynamic clinical theory and psychopathology in contemporary multicultural contexts. ISBN   9781442236837. OCLC   1026414592.
  9. Dinnerstein, Dorothy (1987). The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World (trade paperback) (Reprint with new introduction ed.). London: The Women's Press. p. 26 and 33–34. ISBN   0-7043-4027-5.
  10. Dinnerstein, Dorothy (1987). The rocking of the cradle and the ruling of the world. London: Women's Press. ISBN   0-7043-4027-5.
  11. "Dorothy Dinnerstein; Feminist Writer Was 69"(Obituary). The New York Times. December 19, 1992. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  12. Ben Brantley,"Theater Review: Uta Hagen returns, tossing Wine," New York Times, 25 October 1995.

Further reading