For long time, psychoanalysis in children was not considered feasible. Melanie Klein was one of the first to make precise observations and solve it With their findings, debate about what is psychoanalytically feasible.
According to Sigmund Freud's analysis of "little Hans" ("Analysis of the Phobia of Five-Year-Old Boy", 1909), there were hardly any attempts for ten years to have children with the psychoanalytic method to treat. Freud himself had pointed out that treating child could only be successful under special circumstances. In the case of little Hans, the boy's father had done the actual analysis. According to Freud, child will only develop the necessary trust and describe his or her wishes, dreams and fantasies with close caregiver. He also feared that the interpretation of unconscious wishes in the child would bring these wishes to light in an uncontrollable manner. It is true that these assumptions have neither been proven nor refuted; however, they represented an obstacle to the development of child analysis.
In Freud's understanding, the soul creates and out of fantasy external reality something new - the psychic reality. Melanie Klein builds on this dialectic of psychic life and gets to the bottom of the psychological phenomena that Freud described. When does child make the transition from the “pleasure principle” to the “reality principle” and thus the psychological separation from its parents? With the solution of the so-called Oedipus complex and the establishment of the superego at the age of about five, says Freud. Sándor Ferenczi, Melanie Klein's analyst in Budapest and her first mentor, does not want to commit to either age or sexual explanation. As one of the first analysts, he envisaged depth psychology as the basis of modern pedagogy and called for the knowledge of the theory of neuroses to be made fruitful for education. With his treatise “The stages of development of the sense of reality” (1913) Ferenczi became pioneer of “ego psychology”. According to him, the child gains his sense of reality by denying his desire for omnipotence. He calls the stage of omnipotence the "introjection phase" and the reality stage "projection phase". Melanie Klein continues to work with these concepts and terms. In her autobiography she explains the origin of her life's work: “(...) He [Ferenczi] drew my attention to my great ability to understand children and (...) Encouraged me very much in my plan to analyze, especially the Child analysis, to devote. (...) I had not found (...) That upbringing (...) encompass the full understanding of the personality and thus have the influence that one would have wished for it. I always had the feeling that there was something behind it that I couldn't get at. ”
Melanie Klein was born in 1882 in Vienna. Her father is doctor and comes from Jewish Orthodox family from Galicia, the mother comes from learned and tolerant rabbinical family from Slovakia. At the age of 17 she met Arthur Klein, whom she later married. In 1914 she reads Freud's treatise "About the Dream". Four years later she takes part in the fifth Psychoanalytic Congress in Budapest, where Freud speaks about “Ways of Psychoanalytic Therapy”.
In addition to Melanie Klein, Ferenczi encourages Eugénie Sokolnicka, Ada Schott and Anna Freud to concentrate on child analysis. From 1917 onwards, Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth investigated whether spontaneous play was suitable for gaining insights into the child's unconscious. Klein takes Freud's statement literally that you are actually speaking to child when you make contact with the unconscious of an adult, and sees child psychoanalysis as the inevitable expansion of his work. She takes over technical advances from Hug-Hellmuth. But with her method of directly observing the child's unconscious, she follows Freud. He had learned from treating little Hans that the child's spontaneous play contains unconscious messages that correspond to the adult's free association. Klein is neither doctor nor does she have another diploma. But in 1919 she presented the first child analysis to the Hungarian Society for Psychoanalysis - it was about her youngest son Erich ("Fritz"), whom she had been observing since he was three. In doing so, she comes to the conclusion that "analysis and pedagogical influence (...) Are incompatible". This distinguishes them fundamentally from Hug-Hellmuth, who considers suggestion and guidance necessary to mitigate the effects of the analysis. Klein, on the other hand, is convinced that the interpretation of unconscious impulses and fantasies strengthens the child's ego. The child's play should be free of any suggestion and only restricted by considerations of safety. Are children incapable of transmission because they are still too attached to their parents? According to Klein, the "personifications in children's games" (Klein) follow the same rules as the adult transmissions. She observes that the transference does not revive past relationship, but rather part of the current, unconscious inner world is projected outwards.
"Psychic breathing" characterizes object relationships
In 1924 Klein separated from her husband, and in 1925 she gave several lectures in London. Ernest Jones, founder of the British Psychoanalytic Association, meets Freud's objections briefly and firmly. "Prophylactic child analysis seems to me to be logical consequence of psychoanalysis," he wrote to Freud on July 31. Jones envisions London as the center of child analysis. In September 1926 Melanie Klein moved to the city on the Thames, where she will live from then on. In the same year she begins to analyze Jones ’children.
Klein does not consider the child to be innocent in the sense of Rousseau or" polymorphically perverse "in the sense of Freud. In her lecture “Eine Kinderentwicklung” (1921) she describes “tendency to displacement that has been brought along”, which is more fundamental than the repression imposed by moralizing upbringing. This opens up the view of primary unconscious with the possibility of primal repression and, in detail, the ability or inability to speak and think. For Klein, the “form of interpretation” is decisive. She tries to express the content of the unconscious fantasies as clearly as possible. In doing so, she leans "on the objective way in which children think and speak". Their interpretations, which can sometimes appear rough, are made with careful attention to the child's language.
The terms "projective identification", "paranoid-schizoid position", "depressive position" are of central importance in Klein's work. and the "early Oedipus complex". According to her, an infant relates to objects from the beginning of its life. The first object is the mother's breast, which he divides into satisfactory (good) and failing (bad) one. This split causes the separation between feelings of love and feelings of hate. So if the inner world of the child initially consists of identifications based on introjection, the child, in contrary act, equips the outer world with his love and hate impulses by projecting them outwards. The child experiences love impulses as life-sustaining, feelings of hate as threatening. According to Klein, this interaction between introjection and projection - Florence Guignard speaks of “psychic breathing” - shapes the child's object relationships. The objects of the child's projections are above all the parents. If the parents equipped with childlike projections are internalized, they form the primitive superego of the infant. In contrast to Freud, according to Klein, the superego and the Oedipus complex arise in the second half of the first year of life. The division of the child's world into very good and very bad objects creates fear of the bad object. Klein calls this state of mind the “paranoid-schizoid position”. Later the child realizes that objects that are loved and hated are identical and now develops new fear for his loved objects.Klein calls this state the "depressive position". This does not mean depression as an illness, but the child's ability to love and sympathize, grief and worry.
A fundamental controversy with Anna Freud
In 1927 Anna Freud published her “Introduction to the Technique of child analysis ”. In doing so, she takes into account her father's warnings and essentially represents Hug-Hellmuth's position. In the following years, an extensive and sometimes polemical controversy between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein relaxed. In 1932 Klein's book “The Psychoanalysis of the Child” was published. There are two opposing positions in the debate: Klein, who explains what she did and how she did it, and Anna Freud, who claims that it cannot be done. Both are based on interpretations of Freud's texts. In the course of time Anna Freud gained more experience with child analysis. She does not take on Klein's “depressive position”; but it speaks of the "suffering of babies" and, it seems, approaches Klein’s theory.
Soul life as dynamic process
“She's little crazy, that's all. But there is no doubt that her mind is overflowing with very, very interesting things, "says Alix Strachey, translator of" Psychoanalysis of the Child ", about Melanie Klein. Critics of Klein compare their rather "intuitive" style with the "scientific" clarity of Freud's writings. But the style reflects the different ways of thinking: Here Freud with his soul model, which is based on clearly different stages of development, there Klein, who sees the soul life as dynamic process in which love and hate, projection and introjection, division and fantasy, each in interaction with external reality, are effective at the same time. The divergences with Sigmund Freud never lead to break. When Melanie Klein examined the possibilities of child analysis, she did so in agreement with Freud, despite his reservations. After examining “little Hans”, he came to the conclusion that we should “not consider ourselves bound by the prejudices of our ignorance”.
On September 22, 1960, Melanie Klein was at the University College Hospital in London died.