Developments in Psychoanalysis

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Psychoanalysis is a science evidently fore-ordained to growth and expansion, and among those who have extended the scope of both theory and practice Melanie Klein holds a unique place.This book is a survey of the developments in psychoanalytical knowledge resulting from her work. Her main discoveries relate to the very early phases of mental life. She recognized that the world of unconscious feeling and impulse (which we call 'phantasy') is the effective source of all human actions and reactions, modified though they are when translated into actual external behaviour or conscious thought. Although Freud first enunciated this truth, which originates in his fundamental discovery of the unconscious mind of man, he left many problems still unsolved. These have been brought nearer to a solution through Melanie Klein's consistent awareness of the significance of unconscious phantasy. Not only students of psychoanalysis and workers in related medical fields but also practising child-psychologists and the informed lay public will find this book of absorbing interest.

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I: GENERAL INTRODUCTION

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By JOAN RIVIERE

I have made many beginnings and thrown out many suggestions. … I can hope that they have opened up a path to an important advance in our knowledge. Something will come of them in the future.

This passage from Freud’s Autobiography is only one of many in which he claims that as a science psycho-analysis is foreordained to development and expansion. In one of his prefaces he records ‘his earnest wish that this book should age rapidly and its deficiencies be replaced by something better’. In 1924, when I was struggling with obscurities in The Ego and the Id for the translation, and pestered him to give me a clearer expression of his meaning, he answered me, exasperated, ‘The book will be obsolete in thirty years!’

Nearly thirty years have passed since then, and nothing that he wrote is obsolete. There is nothing that he wrote that does not repay intensive study, comparison and reflection. Yet his assumption that his work would grow and develop—and in ways that he himself did not consciously foresee—has been confirmed. As we follow these new paths which lead so deep into the unknown recesses of the mind and at the same time illuminate human behaviour so far and wide, the crowning pleasure of such widening comprehension comes always, as I think, in a recognition that the original seed of our newer gains lay actually embedded in Freud’s own thought, unconsidered and undeveloped or almost disowned by him though much of it was.

 

II: On the Genesis of Psychical Conflict in êrliest Infancy

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By JOAN RIVIERE

Mv object in this paper is to attempt a short general formulation of the earliest psychical developmental processes in the child, that is, of the problems of oral-sadistic impulses and their attendant anxieties, and the fundamental defence-mechanisms against them employed by the ego at this stage of development, with special reference to the defensive functions of projection and introjection.

It would appear that fuller understanding and knowledge of the operation of these factors in the first year or two of life throw considerable light on the whole of early development, and thus clarify some of the obscurity hitherto existing in regard to ego-development and the genetic origin of the superego, together with the relation of these to infantile sexuality and libido-development. Any claim that psycho-analysis may make to understand the ego-structure of adults and older children necessarily implies the possibility of tracing its development genetically back to its earliest roots. An understanding of the anxieties and defences which arise in the ego as a result of the child’s earliest object-relations must therefore be of special importance for the whole of psycho-analytic work. This orientation of recent work in no way signifies any underestimation of the importance of libido-development or of libidinal processes as such; on the contrary, the significance of the interaction and connections between ego and libido-development only brings out in an even stronger light the crucial importance of infantile libidinal urges in the whole of psychical development.

 

III: The Nature and Function of Phantasy

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By SUSAN ISAACS

Introduction

I. METHODS OF STUDY

(a) Observational Methods, (b) The Method of Psycho-Analysis: Transference Situation: Mental Life under Two Tears of Age.

II. THE NATURE AND FUNCTION OF PHANTASY

Common Usages of the Term ‘Phantasy’: Phantasy as the Primary Content of Unconscious Mental Processes: Hallucination and Primary Introjection: Difficulties in Early Development Arising from Phantasy: Phantasies and Words: Phantasies and Sensory Experience: The Relation of Early Phantasy to the Primary Process: Instinct^ Phantasy and Mechanism: Phantasy, Memory-Images and Reality.

Introduction

A SURVEY of contributions to psycho-analytical theory would show that the term ‘phantasy’ has been used in varying senses by different authors and at different times. Its current usages have widened considerably from its earliest meanings.

Much of this widening of the concept has so far been left implicit. The time is ripe to consider the meaning and definition of the term more explicitly. (GH. N. I.)

 

IV: Certain Functions of Introjection and Projection in Early Infancy

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By PAULA HEIMANN

PART I

THE RELATION TO THE MENTAL STRUCTURE

IN Freud’s theory the structure of the mind is composed of three main parts differentiated by their functions. The id, most closely related to the body, is the reservoir of the instincts and thus the source of energy for all mental activities. This means that it is the dynamic matrix from which the other systems, ego and super-ego, derive. The id represents a person’s unconscious, most primitive and elemental urges, which are dictatorial and do not know compromise or renunciation. The ego is the interpreter and intermediary between the various parts of the mind and the outside world. The super-ego is the internalized representative of the person’s most important objects, his parents, the internal residue of his earliest and most intense emotional ties. It is the system of all morality, conscious and unconscious.

These differentiations are brought about by the fact that the individual exists in a world on which he is dependent by virtue of his instincts: his wish to keep alive, his desire for pleasure and his fear of destruction.

 

V: Regression

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By PAULA HEIMANN and SUSAN ISAACS

PART I

INTRODUCTION

THE term regression has been used by Freud and other writers in various senses.

In the sense which we shall here discuss, Freud uses it to refer to the backward movement of the libido which retraces its former path of development back to a certain point—a process which occurs in characteristic forms in particular types of mental illness. This concept of the regression of the libido is intimately bound up with his conclusions about the forward course of development of the libido and its ‘fixation-points’, conclusions which are complementary to the notion of regression and were formulated pari passu with it.

As we know, Freud discovered that the sexual instinct as met with in the adult is a complex set of component impulses and sensations, involving various membranes and organs of the body and having a complicated developmental history from the earliest days. Psycho-analytic work has shown that these impulses and sensations are bound up with specific feelings and phantasies, and this concept of ‘psycho-sexuality’ has proved indispensable for understanding the sexual life of human beings. Sexuality passes through various phases (oral, anal and genital), in each of which one of the chief erotogenic zones is predominant in aim. The earlier phases do not pass away altogether, they become more or less subordinated to the later aims. In the normal person, the libidinal life as a whole is eventually integrated under the primacy of the genital organ and its aims and satisfactions.

 

VI: Some Theoretical Conclusions Regarding the Emotional Life of the Infant

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By MELANIE KLEIN

MY study of the infant’s mind has made me more and more aware of the bewildering complexity of the processes which operate, to a large extent simultaneously, in the early stages of development. In writing this chapter I have therefore attempted to elucidate some aspects only of the infant’s emotional life during his first year, and have selected these with particular emphasis on anxieties, defences and object-relations.

The First Three or Four Months of Life (The Paranoid-Schizoid Position)2

I

At the beginning of post-natal life the infant experiences anxiety from internal and external sources. I have for many years held the view that the working of the death instinct within gives rise to the fear of annihilation and that this is the primary cause of persecutory anxiety. The first external source of anxiety can be found in the experience of birth. This experience, which, according to Freud, provides the pattern for all later anxiety-situations, is bound to influence the infant’s first relations with the external world.3 It would appear that the pain and discomfort he has suffered, as well as the loss of the intra-uterine state, are felt by him as an attack by hostile forces, i.e. as persecution.4 Persecutory anxiety, therefore, enters from the beginning into his relation to objects in so far as he is exposed to privations.

 

VII: On Observing the Behaviour of Young Infants

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By MELANIE KLEIN

THE theoretical conclusions presented in the previous chapter are derived from psycho-analytic work with young children.1 We should expect such conclusions to be substantiated by observations of infants’ behaviour during the first year of life. This corroborative evidence, however, has its limitations, for, as we know, unconscious processes are only partly revealed in behaviour, whether of infants or adults. Keeping this reservation in mind, we are able to gain some confirmation of psychoanalytic findings in our study of babies.

Many details of infants’ behaviour, which formerly escaped attention or remained enigmatic, have become more understandable and significant through our increased knowledge of early unconscious processes; in other words, our faculty for observation in this particular field has been sharpened. We are, no doubt, hampered in our study of young infants by their inability to talk, but there are many details of early emotional development which we can gather by means other than language. If we are to understand the young infant, though, we need not only greater knowledge but also a full sympathy with him, based on our unconscious being in close touch with his unconscious.

 

VIII: On the Theory of Anxiety and Guilt

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By MELANIE KLEIN

MY conclusions regarding anxiety and guilt have evolved gradually over a number of years; it may be useful to retrace some of the steps by which I arrived at them.

IConcerning the origins of anxiety, Freud put forward to begin with the hypothesis that anxiety arises out of a direct transformation of libido. In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety he reviewed his various theories on the origin of anxiety. As he put it: ‘I propose to assemble, quite impartially, all the facts that we do know about anxiety and to give up the idea of making any immediate synthesis of them.2 He stated again that anxiety arises from direct transformation of libido but now seemed to attribute less importance to this ‘economic’ aspect of the origin of anxiety. He qualified this view in the following statements: ‘The whole matter can be clarified, I think, if we commit ourselves to the definite statement that as a result of repression the intended course of the excitatory process in the id does not occur at all; the ego succeeds in inhibiting or deflecting it. If this is so the problem of “transformation of affect” under repression disappears.3 And: ‘The problem of how anxiety arises in connection with repression may be no simple one; but we may legitimately maintain the opinion that the ego is the actual seat of anxiety and give up our earlier view that the cathectic energy of a repressed impulse is automatically turned into anxiety.’4

 

IX: Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms

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By MELANIE KLEIN

INTRODUCTION

THE present chapter is concerned with the importance of early paranoid and schizoid anxieties and mechanisms. I have given much thought to this subject for a number of years, even before clarifying my views on the depressive processes in infancy. In the course of working out my concept of the infantile depressive position, however, the problems of the phase preceding it again forced themselves on my attention. I now wish to formulate some hypotheses at which I have arrived regarding the earlier anxieties and mechanisms.2

The hypotheses I shall put forward, whk. relate to very early stages of development, are derived by inference from material gained in the analyses of adults and children, and some of these hypotheses seem to tally with observations familiar in psychiatric work. To substantiate my contentions would require an accumulation of detailed case material for which there is no room in the frame of this paper, and I hope in further contributions to fill this gap.

 

IX: APPENDIX

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FREUD’S analysis of the Schreber case1 contains a wealth of material which is very relevant to my topic but from which I shall here draw only a few conclusions.

Schreber described vividly the splitting of the soul of his physician Flechsig (his loved and persecuting figure). The Tlechsig soul’at one time introduced the system of ‘soul divisions’, splitting into as many as forty to sixty sub-divisions. These souls having multiplied till they became a ‘nuisance’, God made a raid on them and as a result the Flechsig soul survived in ‘only one or two shapes’. Another point which Schreber mentions is that the fragments of the Flechsig soul slowly lost both their intelligence and their power.

One of the conclusions Freud arrived at in his analysis of this case was that the persecutor was split into God and Flechsig, and also that God and Flechsig represented the patient’s father and brother. In discussing the various forms of Schreber’s delusion of the destruction of the world, Freud states: ‘In any case the end of the world was the consequence of the conflict which had broken out between him, Schreber, and Flechsig, or, according to the aetiology adopted in the second phase of his delusion, of the indissoluble bond which had been formed between him and God… .’ (Loc. cit, PP- 455-6.)

 

X: Notes on the Theory of the Life and Death Instincts

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By FAULA HEIMANN

ANEW psychological era began with the discovery by Breuer and Freud1 that the hysterical symptoms of their patient were caused by unsolved intra-psychic conflicts. Following the observations made in this particular case Freud continued to investigate his patients’ emotional life, and his researches into the nature of conflict led him to the discovery of the Unconscious. From this point he proceeded to explore the dynamics and structure of the mind and to evolve his theories about mental illness and mental development. One might, therefore, call the systematic investigation of emotional conflict—up till-then outside the sphere of medical science—the birth of psychoanalysis.

Freud traced emotional conflicts to the operation of basic forces with opposite aims, Le. antagonistic instincts. Throughout his work he maintained a dualistic approach to psychological processes and stressed the necessity to understand the nature of the instincts. At first, following the generally accepted contrast between hunger and love, he saw the opposing instinctual forces in the self-preservative and sexual instincts, later he differentiated between ego instincts and sexual instincts and thought that this dualism was in keeping with the human being’s double role of an individual and a representative of his species. But advances in his work did not corroborate this distinction, and ultimately he arrived at the conclusion that a life instinct and a death instinct are the prime movers of human behaviour.

 

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