Saturday 6 Jun 2020

Current Issues

Articles and Papers

J Lacan
J Lacan

Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis Ireland


Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Melanie Klein ()

Object Relations Theory emerges wholly from the profound impact of the work of Melanie Klein (1882-1960). Klein sought to elaborate on and extend Freud's original theory through her observations and clinical work with children. Indeed, Klein's work as a whole is an extension of Freud's work, but also a transformation of Freud's original insights through her unique interpretive perspectives. Klein was also profoundly influenced by Sandor Ferenczi, her own psychoanalyst. Klein's insights were so transformative of Freud's work, in fact, that her theoretical work was rejected by many orthodox Freudians -- a clash best represented in the split between Klein's "London school" and the "Viennese school," most closely associated with the figure of Anna Freud. The initial clash between Klein and Anna Freud, leading to this profound and lasting 'split,' involved differences in opinion regarding the treatment of children. Klein used play therapy and used interpretive techniques which were very similar to the techniques used with adults. Anna Freud, on the other hand, held that children's egos were not yet developed enough for classical analysis, and, instead, she advocated a more educative role for the analyst who works with children. The heated debates in WWII Britain -- within the British psychoanalytic society -- led to a profound schism in the psychoanalytic community which is still evident to this day. In fact, until recently, most American psychoanalysts, who were more closely aligned with Freudian ego psychology, held Klein and subsequent Object Relations Theory in contempt for this reason, and, vice versa, the Kleinian tradition generally demonized the ego psychology movement. Thankfully, today this schism is beginning to heal.

Selected Works:
The Psycho-Analysis of Children (1984) The Writings of Melanie Klein (Vol. 2). (1932)
Further Reading:
Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work, by P Grosskurth (1986)
« Back to Biography Listing
Website by Host Ireland