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The Kleinian Development - Part I

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The Kleinian Development derives from lectures delivered at the Institute of Psychanalysis, London, and the Tavistock Clinic (1965-78). It is divided into three volumes that examine, in turn, the writings of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Wilfred Bion.'With Meltzer as guide we can discover a wealth of object-relational themes in Freud, themes that seems more evident today than in the early years of psychoanalysis. In Part 1 of The Kleinian Development we follow the tension between Freud's truthfully written clinical observations and a theory not always capable of apprehending these findings, and see how this tension became a challenge to the next generation of analysts, among them Klein.'- Grete Tangen Andersen, Morten Andersen, Jon Morgan Stokkeland, Lilian Stokkeland, Eirik Tjessem (The Meltzer Study Group, Stavanger, Norway)

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1. (1895) Why History?

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CHAPTER ONE

Why history?

The recommendation that people who are interested in learning to practise psychoanalytic therapy should apply themselves diligently to the study of Freud seems at first glance to scent of the cult of the personality, to ring of the gospel, and to suggest that nothing else is worthy of study. While it is certain that the recommendation has been used in all these ways, to the detriment of students and psychoanalysis alike, there is another rationale for the advice. There is a cogent justification which has to do with the essential nature of science: namely that it is truly rational in its history. This is formed around a thread of logical necessity. To borrow an image from Freud's early writing, in the history of psychoanalysis revelations or discoveries – whichever they be – adhere to a chain of logically necessary propositions as garlands of flowers wind about a wire.

It may be objected that this does not justify its discoveries being taught as the personal history of a particular worker, even if he can reasonably be called ‘the father of psychoanalysis’, or the greatest figure in its development, or the foremost authority, etc. It will be said, as it has been said, that Lavoisier was the father of chemistry, but we do not teach chemistry by starting with Lavoisier's life, not even his laboratory life, to say nothing of his intimate personal life. It is true that chemistry's history is not the history of people; its logical necessity lies in the relation of particles to one another under varying conditions. However, when you look at the curriculum for the training of chemistry scientists you will find that it adheres absolutely, of necessity, to a sequence which corresponds to the historical development of the science.

 

2. (1900) The Spiral of Method and Data (Studies on Hysteria)

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CHAPTER TWO

The spiral of method and data (Studies on Hysteria)

In the first chapter I suggested that the fate of the creative scientist, as compared with the intuitive crank, is to be ‘wrong’ in all his conclusions. Freud knew this very well and for this reason never hesitated to publish his current ideas nor to abandon them for later approximations. If we try to take the measure of the history of psychoanalysis from the theoretical point of view, we would be in the maelstrom of swirling ideas, models, imagery, from which we would only escape by an arbitrary grasping at what Freud said – in the Introductory Lectures for instance but not in ‘The ego and the id’ – or, worse still, to establish our own reading of Freud as the correct one: i.e. an orthodoxy.

But science (and art, for that matter) is not carried forward by theories but by advances in method, in technique. Jokingly one may say that the inventor of psychoanalysis was Anna 0. with her ‘talking cure’ and ‘chimney sweeping’, and I would think that Freud was sincere when in the 1910 lectures at Clark University he gave credit for the origin to Breuer.

 

3. (1901) The Crystallization of the Method Dream Analysis (Dora)

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CHAPTER THREE

The crystallisation of the method dream analysis (Dora)

The great Freud and the psychoanalytical revolution really begin at the inception of the self-analysis in 1897, after the collapse of the ‘seduction’ theory of hysteria, the ‘specific aetiology’. We may safely assume that the writing of the Traumdeutung (1900), Wit, and Everyday Life, belong to the epoch of the ‘cathartic method’ in which Freud's interest in the working of the mind was beginning to separate itself from the neurophysiologist's interest in the brain. He was working with new ideas: splitting of consciousness, retention of affects, mental pain due to unacceptable ideas, psychic trauma, etc., applied essentially to old data available to psychiatrists. In his isolation, he still hoped for a fair hearing and scientific interest in his findings. Even in the introduction to ‘Dora’, where he both pleads for a hearing and defends himself against foreseen criticism, he is of the opinion that the data is available to any psychiatrist who will take the trouble to collect it. It seems naive and amusing for Freud to suggest that anyone who follows the directions in the recipe book, the Traumdeutung, can analyse dreams. And we know in fact that as late as 1910 he said that anyone who would analyse his own dreams could practise the new science.

 

4. (1905) Freud's Theory of Sexuality

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CHAPTER FOUR

Freud's theory of sexuality

We must now try to investigate a subject that runs through all Freud's work, and is at the very heart of the psychoanalytic method and the psychoanalytic understanding of the mind: namely, the problem of sexuality. In approaching this, as in approaching other aspects of Freud's work, I want to try to differentiate between the method with its associated data, and the theories which are often strongly influenced by preconceptions; and to remind you that I have spoken of the way in which Freud was transformed from the determinist neurophysiologist into a phenomenological psychologist over the period of the forty years of his psychoanalytic work. Freud is probably best known for his revolutionary views on sexuality; but I think when we study them in practice we will be less inclined to consider them as revolutionary views and more inclined to see them as real discoveries. In order to make this differentiation it is necessary to read the Three Essays as laid out in the standard edition with great care, because it has been presented with a certain disingenuousness. Its format runs counter to the general format of the edition, which is chronological with cross-referencing. The editors for some reason have followed a different policy with the Three Essays. I wish to remind you, to begin with, of the way in which one must read it if one is to get a chronological idea in one's mind of Freud's development.

 

5. (1909) The Case History of Little Hans (Infantile Neurosis)

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CHAPTER FIVE

The case history of Little Hans (the infantile neurosis)

The case of Little Hans was published in 1909 only a few months before the publication of the Rat Man case. The clinical work on both these patients had taken place one year before this and the case of the Rat Man had in fact commenced some months prior to Freud's starting work with Little Hans’ father to resolve the child's phobia. This case history stands in relation to the Three Essays on Sexuality much as the Dora case stands in relation to the Traumdeutung: namely, as a clinical addendum to the theoretical publication and intended to illustrate the theory in action in the process of psychoanalytic therapeutic work. However, the publication of the Little Hans material had more meaning for Freud than merely that of a clinical exemplification of the theory in action; for it also signified a certain vindication (and, in a sense, proof of the truth) of his theory about infantile sexuality and of the existence of the infantile neurosis. Freud seems to have looked upon the opportunity of supervising the father's treatment of his child as something extraordinary and some thing whose frequent repetition could be little hoped for, since he could not envisage this sort of work being carried on by anyone other than a child's parent. In retrospect, this may seem rather peculiar to those who have grown quite accustomed to the treatment of children. In fact, the absolute opposite may seem to be true today. I am always rather surprised, however, that children will tolerate psychoanalytic treatment by anybody but their parents and find the evident ease with which little Hans confided his phantasies, acted out his hostility, recounted his dreams, and included Freud as the professor who was supervising his father – indeed the ease with which the whole process was contained within family life – highly impressive, but reasonable.

 

6. (1909) The Rat Man (Obsessional Neurosis)

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CHAPTER SIX

The Rat Man (obsessional neurosis)

The case of the ‘Rat Man’ seems to have taken place in 1907, which means that it started before the treatment of Little Hans by his father under Freud's supervision. The Rat Man was in treatment for some eleven months before he himself broke it off, feeling well, able to face his exams, and to get on with his life. Freud reports in a footnote later that, like so many young men of promise, he died in the First World War. Not only is the paper itself of great interest, but we have also the extraordinary luck to have Freud's notes for the first four months, the notes that he made in the evening after he had finished his day's work. They are fascinating, and give us probably the most accurate picture that we have of Freud actually at work in his consulting room. Therefore we can attempt to draw some inferences from these notes with regard to Freud's technique, and to compare them with the technical papers that begin to appear some three or four years later.

 

7. (1910) The Leonardo Paper (Narcissism)

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CHAPTER SEVEN

The Leonardo paper (narcissism)

We have now reached 1910 and I want to spend this chapter on the Leonardo case. It is a paper I always used to dislike, although I have come to think better of it after re-reading it several times. I think that the reason I balked at it originally was that it is the beginning of a very bad tradition in psychoanalysis: Freud calls it a ‘psycho-pathography’, an investigation into the ‘psycho-pathology of great men’, and if one looks at it in that light it is a somewhat unpleasant thing. Although I believe most of the things he says about Leonardo are probably quite correct, and in a sense enlightening, I do not think it requires psychoanalytic insight to reach them. The aspect that is peculiarly psychoanalytic concerns the part about the bird putting its tail in the baby Leonardo's mouth, the preoccupation with the flight of birds, his flying machines, the supposed hidden vulture in ‘The Virgin and Saint Anne’ and similar material. Yet the writing is not good and to my mind is not really even interesting. Therefore I want to put aside this pathography aspect of the paper, which is the only one of its sort that Freud wrote and, in many ways, is one he apologises for and dissociates himself from at the end. However, one must remember that it is an important paper historically; the beginning of that extremely bad tradition in psychoanalytic writing which consists in scrutinising the private lives of great men by supposedly psychoanalytic methods from outside the psychoanalytic setting of the transference. I think it is boring and has probably done quite a lot of harm in particular to the relationship of psychoanalysis to the arts, since it is mainly artists and writers (and to some extent politicians and historical figures) who have received such treatment.

 

8. (1911) The Schreber Case (Inner World)

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CHAPTER EIGHT

The Schreber case (inner world)

It is of course with a reservation in mind that one includes the Schreber case among Freud's clinical papers, since its content does not relate to experiences in the course of analytical treatment. Freud himself, in a somewhat disingenuous way justifies both its use and the intrusion upon the privacy of the subject, Dr Schreber; but one can see that he was quite enthralled by the Memoirs with special reference to the problem which exercised him – perhaps excessively – all through his scientific life: namely that of ‘choice of neurosis’. However, it is not from this point of view that I wish to examine the paper, but rather from a more phenomenological one. In a certain sense, Freud was so occupied with using the case as material for exposition that he does not fully explore its rich content. Or at least he does not follow through this exploration. As the prelude to the theory of narcissism it stands close to the Rat Man inapproaching a concept of splitting processes, and it is unique among Freud's writings in approaching a concept of ‘the world’ as an aspect of mental life.

 

9. (1914) Mourning and Melancholia (Identification Processes)

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CHAPTER NINE

Mourning and melancholia (identification processes)

I would like to discuss now that rather interesting period in the early years of the First World War when Freud had very few patients, since his students were mainly from abroad, and when he had time to think and take stock of the science which he had fathered – or mothered. He realized that there were great difficulties in every direction: in the training direction, in the theoretical direction, in the technical direction and also in conceiving its place in the world and what it might reasonably mean as part of the culture. He had been considerably stirred up earlier by the so-called defections of Adler and Jung and in the years from 1910 or 1911 onward there are outbursts against them in his writings every once in a while. They are interesting outbursts because their content often suggests that he is reviling them for just those things about which he is really troubled himself and with which he has not yet come to grips. For example, much of what he reviles Jung for will in fact later turn into his revision of instinct theory, although it is of course not quite the same as Jung's theory. He is reviling Jung for abandoning the central role of sexuality, the libido theory and so on in favour of something that he considered to be a watered-down, popularly acceptable product. Twelve or fifteen years later, it changes in his own hands into the new instinct theory, in which sexuality is not given this primary place but has to take its position within the life instincts and be opposed to what he calls the ‘death instinct’. Similarly in his reviling of Adler, mainly for his masculine protest and his will-to-power theories, one finds the harbingers of Freud's later struggle with the whole problem of hatred and evil and destructiveness, which finally became the concept of the death instinct.

 

10. (1918) The Wolf Man (the Primal Scene)

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CHAPTER TEN

The Wolf Man (the primal scene)

The case of the ‘Wolf Man’ is to my mind the most important case history in the whole of psychoanalytic literature and in all of Freud's work; for the Wolf Man was what might be called an encyclopaedia of psychopathology. Moreover, I believe this particular case was Freud's premier clinical experience because all the work that follows seems to be deeply involved with it. It opened up the phenomenon of the primal scene to him. Now this was something which Freud had in fact conceptualized very early on, but which – probably owing to his diminished interest in the idea of specific aetiology – he later put aside. It was not until he was faced with the Wolf Man and his extraordinary dream and the evidence of the impact of the dream on the child's development, that Freud took it up again. In a way it is this theory that gives proper psychoanalytic form to all of Freud's theories about sexuality; for although they had been, as it were, announced in the Three Essays on Sexuality, they were not built upon a foundation of psychoanalytic data, but merely from psychoanalytical modes of thought applied to ordinary medical and psychiatric data.

 

11. (1919) The Child Being Beaten (the Perversions)

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

The child being beaten (the perversions)

This is the most difficult chapter as far as I am concerned, because it touches on the real watershed period in Freud's work at the end of the First World War, and is followed by the great revolution in his thinking which was to build up during the 1920s and emerge as the Structural Theory. It is the most difficult chapter because it is extremely complicated: the evidence is difficult to comprehend and indeed I do not understand it very well, and so do not expect to be able to clarify it for anyone else. I would begin by emphasizing once more that the approach towards Freud in this book is through his clinical work and his clinical thinking, dealing with his theories – which are expressed as explanatory theories – as having essentially no explanatory power. It seems to me that the approach made to the mind which is based on trying to explain things, is a wrong one, and for this reason I shall take the theories as modes of thought which are intended to be useful in the consulting room and in thinking, writing and talking about one's clinical experience: modes of thought which are intended to gather together, to categorize and to help demonstrate the inter-relationships of the various phenomena that one meets in the consulting room while investigating people's minds. I am going to discuss a watershed period in relation to Freud's modes of thought, and it is very difficult to pick it out in the papers of this time; for we are in effect somewhere between the Wolf Man (whose clinical work was carried out between 1910 and 1914 and written up during the war) and ‘Beyond the pleasure principle’ of 1920, which contains the seeds of the new Structural Theory. Now while in the development of the concept of the ideal ego into that of the ego-ideal, which I demonstrated in the chapter on Mourning and Melancholia and the paper ‘On narcissism’, the formation of this Structural Theory was already under way, it was not yet dealt with as such, but rather as an agency in the mind. Freud does not remotely clarify the exact relationship of the structure to the developmental processes, nor easily convey his way of thinking about it. The period was during the war: he was fairly isolated from foreign and German colleagues alike (Ferenczi was in Budapest, Abraham in Berlin) ; the patients he had being few, he was left with a great deal of time for thinking and writing. The result was a group of little but terribly interesting papers; for although he did not write large quantities, what he did set down was absolutely loaded with thought. And it is this evidence of the real struggling that went on at that period that I wish now to try to highlight.

 

12. (1920) Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Group Psychology (the Ego-Ideal)

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CHAPTER TWELVE

Beyond the pleasure principle and group psychology (the ego-ideal)

This chapter brings us to the very verge of ‘The ego and the id’ and the Structural Theory, which represents such an immense change in the conceptual tools with which psychoanalysts can try to understand and organize the clinical phenomena. In order to understand the importance of this change it is essential to see in what way Freud was in difficulty, both clinically and conceptually, and how he was struggling to find a way out of it. ‘Beyond the pleasure principle’ and ‘Group psychology’ each in their own way attempt to solve the problem. Freud always, as he himself says, attempts to take the citadel by storm; and each of these papers endeavours to do everything at once. The first attempts to solve the problem by taking the Libido Theory and, as it were, standing it up on its ear: as if a change simply in the nature of the duality of instincts (giving them different names and a different type of significance) would solve everything. The second attempts the solution by establishing a concept of the ego ideal, which later of course in ‘The ego and the id’ turns into that of the superego. And both go some distance to enrich the conceptual tools with which he worked, as I now hope to explain.

 

13. (1923) The Ego and the Id (the Advent of the Structural Theory)

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The ego and the id (the advent of the structural theory)

When one attempts to take stock of the position of Freud's thought at this time, and to juxtapose it to the clinical data with which he was struggling, two basic factors present the selves. One is the residue of the Project, demanding restatement in terms of the new clinical phenomena; and at the other extreme there is evidence of the operation on his thought of the two masses of clinical data in his experience comprised in the Wolf Man and in Schreber's extraordinary diary. One sees on the one hand his tendency to ‘take the citadel by storm’ and this by means to reduce the mysteries of nature to academic order and obedience; and on the other, his respect for an apparent galaxy of clinical phenomena thrown up by the psychoanalytical method, which defied such tyranny.

What were these phenomena? Schreber's hypochondria and persecutory delusions had revealed the world of narcissism, which Freud was seeing primarily in terms of the ego taking its own body as sexual object. By withdrawing cathexis from external objects on to the ego, early types of identification processes were invoked which antedated object relations. These could later be regressed to as fixation points (the stage of narcissism which followed auto-erotism in the baby's development). Then Schreber's ‘world destruction’ phantasy revealed the fact that in the mind a ‘subjective world’ is built up during development, from the ‘sublimations and identifications’ of the ego. The crumbling of this world was viewed by Freud as a relatively slow, non-violent process, resulting from the withdrawal of the libido from objects in the outside world. Just why this should produce a catastrophe in dementia or schizophrenia and not in melancholia he could not say, for he viewed the withdrawal of libido to be the primary operation in both situations. In any case, Freud saw this crumbling of the world of the mind as the event underlying the chaotic confusion of the dementia, from which a type of recovery was effected by building a delusional world from the fragments, ‘not more splendid but at least one he could live in’.

 

14. (1926) The Last Years (Anxiety and the Economics of the Mind)

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The last years (anxiety and the economics of the mind)

We come now to the rather sad last years of Freud's life: the last twelve years from the writing of ‘Inhibition, symptom and anxiety’ until his death. For despite being ill he seems to have worked a lot: in between a dozen operations he wrote three volumes of papers. His interest certainly turned very strongly toward retrospection on the implications of psychoanalytic findings for other fields – anthropology, sociology, and politics; and he produced these works: The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism, which I personally do not find very interesting. There is a change in his style of writing: it becomes very prolix and diffuse in many places; I think writing had probably become a necessary part of his life, and of course the people who followed him were interested in anything written by him.

However, I do not wish to discuss these works; rather, I propose to study the winding-up and tying together of his clinical ideas and the tools and equipment of psychoanalysis – developments in his attitudes rather than his technique: such as the problem of female sexuality; a more definitive view of the perversions; and a clearer shape to the concept of splitting of the ego and the mechanisms of psychopathology. All this makes a substantial though not perhaps a major contribution, such as occurred throughout the marvellous six years from 1920 to 1926, in which the whole theory was revised to become the Structural Theory, and with it the model of the mind for use in the consulting room. ‘Inhibition, symptom and anxiety’, or ‘The problem of anxiety’ as it is sometimes called, really reversed Freud's previous stand concerning anxiety. He tended earlier to consider it to be a kind of noise made in the mind as a result of the stagnation of sexual impulses and their transformation into mental pain. But here he decides that anxiety is really at the heart of the matter, and he uses the term not simply as a descriptive one (as previously), but as a general term for the kind of mental pain that functions as a signal of some impending disorder in the mind. This signal theory of anxiety is the one with which we actually work; although of course the theory of anxiety has undergone a considerable change in the hands of Mrs Klein, though her division of it into persecutory anxiety (corresponding to Freud's signal) and depressive anxieties, which corresponds more to a concept of mental pain.

 

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