Melanie Klein

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General Information

Started work as a psychoanalyst during the First World War.

Began her work as an extension of Freud's thinking, but gradually diverged on some main points of argument.

Though she did claim many successes in new areas their context and their relationship to Freud's innovation are important.

Main Theories

The Play Technique

Developed through her early work with children with speech difficulties in order to allow them to express themselves.

Uses a set of toys and a neutral playroom to analyse how a child interacts with the toys and therefore what its anxieties and fears are. Essentially it is the same basic premise of Freud's free- association technique, as it does not give direct answers but provides clues to the unconscious feelings of the child.

The Development of the Child

Simplified, she believed a new baby brings into the world two main innate and conflicting impulses, those of love and hate.

She believed that love was an essential composite of the love drive, while hate along with destructiveness and envy belonged to the individuals death drive.

These develop as the baby encounters both frustration and satisfaction and it is how the baby deals with these two drives that forms the structure of the ego.

Where Klein most famously differs from Freud is in the area of the Oedipus complex.

Firstly she believes that it happens at a much younger age than Freud does (as early as one year old), where as Freud says it occurs at three to five years.

Secondly she believes that the origins of neuroses lie in the failure to pass through the depressive position, and not to be fixated at the various stages of development. So for Klein, the depressive position takes the place that the Oedipus complex has in classic theory.

Finally she...