Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein

Julia Kristeva
Translated by Ross Guberman
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/kris12284
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Melanie Klein
    Book Description:

    To the renowned psychoanalyst, philosopher, and linguist Julia Kristeva, Melanie Klein (1882--1960) was the most original innovator, male or female, in the psychoanalytic arena. Klein pioneered psychoanalytic practice with children and made major contributions to our understanding of both psychosis and autism. Along the way, she successfully introduced a new approach to the theory of the unconscious without abandoning the principles set forth by Freud. In her first biography of a fellow psychoanalyst, the prolific Kristeva considers Klein's life and intellectual development, weaving a narrative that covers the history of psychoanalysis and illuminates Kristeva's own life and work.

    Kristeva tells the remarkable story of Klein's life: an unhappy wife and mother who underwent analysis, and -- without a medical or other advanced degree -- became an analyst herself at the age of 40. In examining her work, Kristeva proposes that Klein's "break" with Freud was really an attempt to complete his theory of the unconscious. Kristeva addresses Klein's numerous critics, and, in doing so, bridges the wide gulf between the clinical and theoretical worlds of psychoanalysis.

    Klein is celebrated here as the first person to see the mother as the source of not only creativity, but of thought itself, and the first to consider the place of matricide in psychic development. As such, Klein is a seminal figure in the evolution of the provocative ideas about motherhood and the psyche for which Kristeva is most famous. Klein is thus, in a sense, a mother to Kristeva, making this book an account of the development of Kristeva's own thought as well as Klein's.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51803-1
    Subjects: Psychology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-1)
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 2-3)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE PSYCHOANALYTIC CENTURY
    (pp. 5-16)

    1925: “She’s a dotty woman. But there’s no doubt whatever that her mind is stored with things of thrilling interest. And she’s a nice character.”¹ That was how Alix Strachey described Melanie Klein to her husband, James Strachey, who would become the celebrated editor and translator of the Standard Edition of Freud’s writings and who was one of the leaders of the acclaimed Bloomsbury group in London. While Alix and Melanie were in Berlin together, they were analyzed by Karl Abraham and spent their evenings dancing in “leftist” bars of a more or less popular vein.

    1957: Three decades later,...

  5. 1 JEWISH FAMILIES, EUROPEAN STORIES: A DEPRESSION AND ITS AFTERMATH
    (pp. 17-34)

    Not surprisingly, the biography of Melanie Klein¹ reveals that the childhood experienced by this discoverer of the “object-mother” and of matricide was dominated by the imposing figure of her own mother, Libussa Deutsch.

    Libussa, a black-haired beauty, intelligent and well educated, came from a family of learned and tolerant rabbis in Slovakia. She played the piano and learned French; her brother Hermann, who became a successful lawyer and who played an important role in the life of the Reizes family, attended a Jesuit school. At twenty-four years of age, Libussa met Moriz Reizes in Vienna and then married him. Moriz,...

  6. 2 ANALYZING HER CHILDREN: FROM SCANDAL TO PLAY TECHNIQUE
    (pp. 35-56)

    Long before Freud, Wordsworth (1770–1850) wrote that “the child is father to the man.” In the shadow of the signs of the baby Jesus and of Saint Augustine’s Confessions, two models of childhood have competed for the English imagination¹: first, the model set forth by John Locke in his Thoughts Concerning Education (1703) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Emile (1762), that is, the purified myth of childhood innocence; and second, the Calvinist belief² that the child is naturally perverse as a legacy of original sin, which justifies the often cruel severity of educational methods (whippings, deprivations, and intimidation).

    Scholars as...

  7. 3 THE PRIORITY AND INTERIORITY OF THE OTHER AND THE BOND: THE BABY IS BORN WITH HIS OBJECTS
    (pp. 57-81)

    The hypothesis that a stage extending over several months precedes object-relations implies that—except for the libido attached to the infant’s own body—impulses, phantasies[,] anxieties, and defenses either are not present in him, or are not related to an object, that is to say, they would operate in vacuo. The analysis of very young children has taught me that there is no instinctual urge, no anxiety situation, no mental process which does not involve objects, external or internal; in other words, object-relations are at the centre of emotional life. Furthermore, love and hatred, phantasies, anxieties, and defences are also...

  8. 4 ANXIETY OR DESIRE: IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE DEATH DRIVE
    (pp. 82-97)

    Whereas for Freud the unconscious foundation of psychic life is centered on desire and on the repression of desire, all of Melanie Klein’s work is dominated by an interest in anxiety. Still, could she be said to have eviscerated libido for the sake of the death drive or to have discarded Eros to take comfort in Thanatos, as some have accused her of doing?

    The archaic ego, as fragile as it is, desires the breast, but because it strives for an immediate, infinite, and impossible gratification, it does so excessively, so much so¹ that it encounters frustration. In Klein’s view,...

  9. 5 A MOST EARLY AND TYRANNICAL SUPEREGO
    (pp. 98-113)

    In Klein’s theory of the psyche, oral sadism goes hand in hand with a tyrannical superego. Toward the beginning of her clinical experience, the psychoanalyst set forth the early genesis of the superego in “Early Stages of the Oedipus Conflict and of Super-Ego Formation,” an article that contains hints of an earlier 1928 study and that was published in The Psychoanalysis of Children.¹ Klein returned to the subject—with a new perspective and a new sense of purpose—in “The Oedipus Complex in the Light of Early Anxieties,” which she published in Love, Guilt, and Reparation.²

    The sadism phase, which...

  10. 6 THE CULT OF THE MOTHER OR AN ODE TO MATRICIDE? THE PARENTS
    (pp. 114-136)

    The Kleinian universe, as has been stated to excess, is dominated by the mother. The omnipotence of this archaic figure is threatening and terrifying. Is the mother so pernicious that we have to abandon her and hasten her death? Is she unable to transform herself? And even if she is not, what does she become? Does the requisite abandonment of the mother constitute a journey toward the father, as Freud and Lacan believed? Or does it set the stage for subsequent reunions with a good mother who is finally restored, gratifying, and gratified? That is more likely because, in the...

  11. 7 THE PHANTASY AS A METAPHOR INCARNATE
    (pp. 137-157)

    No matter how far back Klein reaches into childhood, she always discovers a fantasizing ego. A sundry entity made up of verbal and nonverbal representations, sensations, affects, emotions, movements, actions, and even concretizations, the Kleinian phantasy is a wholly impure theoretical construct that defies the purists as much as it fascinates clinicians, particularly those who specialize in children, psychosis, or the psychosomatic disorders. And yet Melanie Klein never explicitly reconciled her various approaches to the term phantasy—in fact, it was an article written by her disciple Susan Isaacs that pursued that subject and rendered it credible.¹

    As a way...

  12. 8 THE IMMANENCE OF SYMBOLISM AND ITS DEGREES
    (pp. 158-191)

    In light of the early emergence of the ego and the superego, as well as the Oedipus conflict and incarnate fantasies, we now view the infant’s psychic universe, as Klein conceived it, as being consumed from the start with a sort of primary symbolization, however rudimentary it may be. As much a generator of social bonds as it is defensive and inhibiting, such symbolization is destined to be modified before it reaches the level of what we call, in the strict sense of the word, a thought. In some people, that level is reached only with the help of psychoanalysis....

  13. 9 FROM THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TO THE FILIGREE OF THE LOYAL AND DISLOYAL
    (pp. 192-212)

    In 1925 Melanie Klein learned English from Alix Strachey in preparation for delivering papers in England: “I’ve taken the plunge & am to teach Melanie English—anyhow the Fach-department. For this purpose I propose going thro’ Little Hans . . . with her; she is to read him aloud, & then we are to discuss him in English.”¹

    The distinguished Londoner was impressed by her student’s understanding of the English language, but because Klein’s accent was horrible, the two of them decided that she should continue her studies with a formal teacher.

    From the moment Klein moved to England in...

  14. 10 THE POLITICS OF KLEINIANISM
    (pp. 213-248)

    By confronting archaic anxieties, which had received little attention before her, and by winning over the British therapists, Melanie Klein gained an international audience within the psychoanalytic movement. To her innovative thought and her talent were added an indefatigable tenacity and an unparalleled ability to guide her friends, to divide her adversaries, and to regulate envies and gratitudes—the signs of a powerful woman. Many people noticed these qualities after Klein arrived in England. Just after Ferenczi’s 1927 visit to London, for example, Ferenczi wrote Freud, as we recall, to denounce “the domineering influence which Frau Melanie Klein has on...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 249-276)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 277-284)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 285-296)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-304)