The Foundations of Psychiatry

By Silvano Arieti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 39

BRITISH PSYCHOANALYTIC
SCHOOLS
A. The Kleinian School

R. E. Money-Kyrle


Melanie Klein and
Kleinian Psychoanalytic
Theory

MELANIE KLEIN was born in Vienna in 1882 and died in London in 1960. She had originally intended to study medicine at the Vienna University and would have done so, had not an early marriage intervened. However, years later during World War I, she had a second opportunity to recapture her old interest in a new form. She came in contact with Freud's work, recognized what she felt she had been looking for and, from then on, dedicated herself to it. She started her training with Sándor Ferenczi during the war and, after the armistice, continued it with Karl Abraham. Both encouraged her to specialize in the analysis of children, at that time almost a new field. (Later she also analyzed adults and, at the end of her life, was largely engaged in training analyses.)

One of her early patients was a very silent child. She tried giving him toys, discovered she could interpret his play as if it had been verbal associations, and so found herself in possession of a new implement of psycho‐ analytic research. The results of her research with this implement, which she began to publish in a long series of papers and a few books, were regarded by some as departures from Freud and are still often criticized as such. Others, including her own teacher Abraham, till his death in 1926, welcomed them as important contributions to analytic insight and therapeutic power. She herself always saw her work as rooted in Freud's and a development of it, which inevitably also involved some modifications.

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