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Melanie Klein and the Out-though in Great Britain
Transcript of Melanie Klein and the Out-though in Great Britain
There is no mother's pair, but a truly mothering pair. Winnicott
Born in Vienna of Jewish parentage, Klein first sought psychoanalysis for herself from Sándor Ferenczi when she was living in Budapest during World War I. There she became a psychoanalyst and began analyzing children in 1919. Allegedly two of the first children she analyzed were her son and daughter. In 1921 she moved to Berlin, where she studied with and was analyzed by Karl Abraham. Although Abraham supported her pioneering work with children, neither Klein nor her ideas received much support in Berlin. However, impressed by her innovative work, British psychoanalyst Ernest Jones invited Klein to come to London in 1926, where she worked until her death in 1960.
Klein had a major influence on the theory and technique of psychoanalysis, particularly in Great Britain. 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.
After the arrival of Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalyst daughter, Anna, in London in 1938, Klein’s ideas came into conflict with those of Continental analysts who were migrating to Britain. Following protracted debates between the followers of Klein and the followers of Anna Freud during the 1940s (the so-called 'controversial discussions'), the British Psychoanalytical Society split into three separate training divisions: (1) Kleinian, (2) Anna Freudian, and (3) independent. This division remains to the current time.
Apart from her professional successes, Klein’s life was full of tragic events. Allegedly the product of an unwanted pregnancy, she had little affection from her parents. Her much loved elder sister died when Klein was four, and she was made to feel responsible for her brother’s death. Her academic studies were interrupted by marriage and children. Her marriage failed and her son died in a climbing accident, that may have been a suicide, while her daughter, whom Klein had analyzed as a child, the well-known psychoanalyst Melitta Schmideberg, fought her openly in the British Psychoanalytic Society. Her daughter's analyst at the time, Edward Glover, openly challenged Klein in the British Society meetings. Mother and daughter were not reconciled before Klein's death, and Schmideberg did not attend Klein's funeral.
Everything is mine
Good and Bad Object
The positions of Kleinian theory, underlain by unconscious phantasy, are stages in the normal development of ego and object relationships, each with its own characteristic defenses and organizational structure. The paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions occur in the pre-oedipal, oral phase of development.
The paranoid-schizoid position is characterized by part object relationships. Part objects are a function of splitting, which takes place in phantasy. At this developmental stage, experience can only be perceived as all good or all bad. As part objects, it is the function that is identified by the experiencing self, rather than whole and autonomous others. The hungry infant desires the good breast who feeds it. Should that breast appear, it is the good breast. If the breast does not appear, the hungry and now frustrated infant in its distress, has destructive phantasies dominated by oral aggression towards the bad, hallucinated breast.
Klein notes that in splitting the object, the ego is also split. The infant who phantasies destruction of the bad breast is not the same infant that takes in the good breast, at least not until obtaining the depressive position, at which point good and bad can be tolerated simultaneously in the same person and the capacity for remorse and reparation ensue.
In the depressive position, the infant is able to experience others as whole, which radically alters object relationships from the earlier phase.“Before the depressive position, a good object is not in any way the same thing as a bad object. It is only in the depressive position that polar qualities can be seen as different aspects of the same object.”Increasing nearness of good and bad brings a corresponding integration of ego.
The anxieties characteristic of the depressive position shift from a fear of being destroyed to a fear of destroying others. In fact or phantasy, one now realizes the capacity to harm or drive away a person who one ambivalently loves. The defenses characteristic of the depressive position include the manic defenses, repression and reparation. The manic defenses are the same defenses evidenced in the paranoid-schizoid position, but now mobilized to protect the mind from depressive anxiety. As the depressive position brings about an increasing integration in the ego, earlier defenses change in character, becoming less intense and allow increasing awareness of psychic reality.