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Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein (1882-1960), an Austrian psychoanalyst, was renowned for her radical divergence from the Freudian psychoanalysis and her formulation of therapeutic approaches for young children (Kristeva, 2001; Grosskurth, 1986). What fundamentally distinguishes Klein from the Freudian perspective is her belief that intense primitive and psychotic anxieties exist in infants, which are never fully resolved even in adulthood. Klein believed that the primitive unconscious phantasies and impulses are constantly in turmoil. Yet, at the same time, these raging feelings and impulses within the inner world are integral to an individual's ability to think and feel. On the other hand, Freud and his daughter, Anna Freud, argued that the internal world becomes considerably more structured with the resolution of the Oedipus complex at the age of five or six. Essentially, Klein's perspective of a human being as being in a constant state of struggle with the unconscious impulses and emotions is in direct opposition to the neo-Freudians' emphasis on the human ability to adapt to the outer world (Young, 2000).

In this paper, the contribution of Melanie Klein to psychoanalysis will be discussed in greater detail with references to its differences from traditional Freudian psychoanalysis. More importantly, Klein's concepts of positions and projective identification, which lie at the heart of Klein's theory of the development of children, will be presented. Finally, the clinical implications of her work will be considered within the context of this discussion.

One of Klein's key contributions to the field of psychoanalysis is her intense focus on the world of phantasy. More than just the imagination of pleasant and unreal events, Klein's conception of phantasy is considered a "mechanism of defense" (Segal, 1992, p. 30) that encompasses both the real and the imagined, as well as the good and the bad. The phantasy world exerts a signific...

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Melanie Klein. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:13, April 21, 2019, from