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The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic

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The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Transformative New Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory brings together the theories of Melanie Klein and Donald W. Winnicott, two giants and geniuses of the British school of object relations clinical and developmental theory and psychoanalytic technique. In this book, Dr Kavaler-Adler attempts to integrate the theories of Klein and Winnicott, rather than polarising them, as has been done often in the past. This book takes the best of Klein and Winnicott for use by clinicians on an everyday basis, without having the disputes between their followers interfere with the full and rich platter of theoretical offerings they each of them provided.In addition, this book looks at the biographies of Klein and Winnicott, to show how their theories were inspired by their contrasting lives and contrasting parenting and developmental dynamics. By examining their theories in relation to their biographies, one can see why their dialectical theoretical focuses emerged, highly contrasted in their major emphasis, and yet highly complementary when applied together to clinical work. This is a very new perspective. In demonstrating this approach, rich and vivid clinical case illustrations are provided for the reader.

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INTRODUCTION A developmental theory ofpsychological health based on the Klein–Winnicott dialectic and related object relations thinking

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INTRODUCTION

A developmental theory of psychological health based on the

Klein–Winnicott dialectic and related object relations thinking

British object relations theory since the time of Melanie Klein, Ronald

Fairbairn, D. W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, Hanna Segal, and Wilfred

Bion has made enormous theoretical contributions to the clinical practice of psychological healing in all of humanity, and particularly in those with developmental arrests who develop character disorders.

These theorists have made their contributions without discarding

Freud’s enormous contributions to the practice of psychoanalysis for neurotic patients. However, due to the politics of psychoanalysis as it has been practised in Britain, those who have been influenced by the

Kleinian tradition—including the profound contributions of Hanna

Segal, Paula Heimann, Rosenfeld, and Wilfred Bion—have seen themselves as directly in conflict with those followers of D. W. Winnicott, who have called themselves the British “Middle Group”.

 

Chapter One - Melanie Klein, like Moses on the way to the Promised Land: A Case of Pathological Mourning

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The Bible records Moses as having led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. Moses is reported as having spoken to G-d on Mt. Sinai, and as having vented his retaliatory rage at his people, on the night when he encountered their sin (in the episode with the golden calf). The Bible also reports how Moses paid dearly for his retaliatory rage. Moses’ own precious vision for the Jewish people would never be completely his. According to the Bible and its myth, Moses would spend the time of a generation in the desert. He would watch the children of his flock grow to adulthood. Only in old age would Moses view the holy land that he himself could never enter, due to the impulsive rage attack upon others. Consequently, Moses’ vision was both his greatest gift and his greatest curse, for Moses could foresee what he himself could not participate in. He would stay behind, while the second generation of Israelites, the children of those he had parted the Red Sea for and had entered the desert with, entered the land of Israel.

 

CHAPTER ONE Melanie Klein, like Moses on the way to the Promised Land: a case of pathological mourning

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CHAPTER TITLE

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CHAPTER ONE

Melanie Klein, like Moses on the way to the Promised Land: a case of pathological mourning

he Bible records Moses as having led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. Moses is reported as having spoken to

G-d on Mt. Sinai, and as having vented his retaliatory rage at his people, on the night when he encountered their sin (in the episode with the golden calf). The Bible also reports how Moses paid dearly for his retaliatory rage. Moses’ own precious vision for the Jewish people would never be completely his. According to the Bible and its myth, Moses would spend the time of a generation in the desert. He would watch the children of his flock grow to adulthood. Only in old age would Moses view the holy land that he himself could never enter, due to the impulsive rage attack upon others. Consequently,

Moses’ vision was both his greatest gift and his greatest curse, for

Moses could foresee what he himself could not participate in. He would stay behind, while the second generation of Israelites, the children of those he had parted the Red Sea for and had entered the desert with, entered the land of Israel.

 

Chapter Two - Melanie Klein's Creative Writing Revealing Themes in her Life and Theorising

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Through Grosskurth's (1986) research, we can see in Klein's own creative writing (produced after her mother's death) that the psychic themes, which were just outlined, manifest in a symbolic form. Grosskurth's conjectures follow, as do my own. Having constructed a psychic demon, Melanie Klein was most particularly in need of a psychic muse, a figure upon which to cast her fantasy mother ideal in conjunction with her yearned fantasy father, someone who might finally offer her erotic gratification, as well as inspiration for her creative writing. Klein's stories show the inspiration for her creative writing; they show both her need and her search. They also portray the binding guilt that imprisons her. It is such guilt that (when kept unconscious) kept her externally imprisoned in a detached and failing marriage, as well as internally imprisoned within a closed internal psychic system. In this closed psychic system, one that can be described by Fairbairn's (1952) theory of an anti-libidinal ego system in which self-sabotaging identifications dominate the whole personality, Klein is haunted by her mother's disowned parts. When Klein does finally burst (rather than evolve) out of her shell, her voice emerges in poetry, following her earlier prose stories with their stream of consciousness orientation (at the time of James Joyce). The denouement forecast in her short stories results in the demon-lover complex (see Kavaler-Adler, 1985–2013) that manifests in both literary and life themes of seduction and abandonment. Such themes harken back to both unresolved oedipal disappointment and to pre-oedipal entrapment, the latter being related to a mother who perhaps could not connect with her unless Melanie served as her self-extension or self-object. Such a father–mother figure is now seen as a lover, at the end of the symbiotic/oedipal “affair”, precluding a relationship of two individuated selves.

 

CHAPTER TWO Melanie Klein’s creative writing revealing themes in her life and theorising

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CHAPTER TWO

Melanie Klein’s creative writing revealing themes in her life and theorising

hrough Grosskurth’s (1986) research, we can see in Klein’s own creative writing (produced after her mother’s death) that the psychic themes, which were just outlined, manifest in a symbolic form. Grosskurth’s conjectures follow, as do my own.

Having constructed a psychic demon, Melanie Klein was most particularly in need of a psychic muse, a figure upon which to cast her fantasy mother ideal in conjunction with her yearned fantasy father, someone who might finally offer her erotic gratification, as well as inspiration for her creative writing. Klein’s stories show the inspiration for her creative writing; they show both her need and her search.

They also portray the binding guilt that imprisons her. It is such guilt that (when kept unconscious) kept her externally imprisoned in a detached and failing marriage, as well as internally imprisoned within a closed internal psychic system. In this closed psychic system, one that can be described by Fairbairn’s (1952) theory of an anti-libidinal ego system in which self-sabotaging identifications dominate the whole personality, Klein is haunted by her mother’s disowned parts.

 

CHAPTER THREE The phenomenological theory stands on its own: death instinct as demon lover

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CHAPTER THREE

The phenomenological theory stands on its own: death instinct as demon lover

The demonic bad object as the price of pre-oedipal stage arrest and idealisation hose with defensive idealisation as a primary organising factor in their psyches inevitably split others into idealised and devalued figures. When the object is looked up to for creative inspiration, the idealised object becomes a muse figure, and the bad object becomes a demonic muse, or demon-lover figure. The demon lover evolves from early negative parent objects, combined with split-off or dissociated rage, and it is also the result of a split-off idealised image of the early parent. The idealised constellation of self and other exists in a polarised but isolated dimension of the psyche in relation to the bad object/demon-lover constellation. The rage associated with the demon lover is unneutralised; because it is sealed off in its dissociated state, as it remains unmodified by sustained internal love connections.

 

Chapter Three - The Phenomenological Theory Stands on its Own: Death Instinct as Demon Lover

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The demonic bad object as the price of pre-oedipal stage arrest and idealisation

Those with defensive idealisation as a primary organising factor in their psyches inevitably split others into idealised and devalued figures. When the object is looked up to for creative inspiration, the idealised object becomes a muse figure, and the bad object becomes a demonic muse, or demon-lover figure. The demon lover evolves from early negative parent objects, combined with split-off or dissociated rage, and it is also the result of a split-off idealised image of the early parent. The idealised constellation of self and other exists in a polarised but isolated dimension of the psyche in relation to the bad object/demon-lover constellation. The rage associated with the demon lover is unneutralised; because it is sealed off in its dissociated state, as it remains unmodified by sustained internal love connections. The resulting visceral self-part (more than an impulse) combines with a negative parent representation, producing a powerful sadistic aggression that becomes personified as a demon. When eroticised, the personified demon turns to the unconscious psychic fantasy of a demon lover.

 

CHAPTER FOUR Explicating and utilising the phenomenological theory

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CHAPTER FOUR

Explicating and utilising the phenomenological theory

innicott (1965, 1975) wrote about the formation of a “true self” in a human being who begins life in a dyadic relationship with a mother, who hopefully can offer “primary maternal preoccupation” to facilitate her infant’s developmental growth into the state of having a “self”. In dialectic with this, Klein offers us a phenomenological theory that can be fleshed out in developmental terms, but which also offers us the poignancy of a theorist who has lived very close to the existential nature of human suffering.

In fact, Klein’s phenomenology looks at moral growth through the lens of a human heart that bears its imprint on psychic experience.

Klein’s phenomenological theory is one of two primary psychic state positions, each having its own unique constellation of defences, modes of object relations, and psychic structure. In The Matrix of the

Mind, Ogden (1986) has done an admirable job of offering clinical examples for the different mental experience of the two positions.

 

Chapter Four - Explicating and Utilising the Phenomenological Theory

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Winnicott (1965, 1975) wrote about the formation of a “true self” in a human being who begins life in a dyadic relationship with a mother, who hopefully can offer “primary maternal preoccupation” to facilitate her infant's developmental growth into the state of having a “self”. In dialectic with this, Klein offers us a phenomenological theory that can be fleshed out in developmental terms, but which also offers us the poignancy of a theorist who has lived very close to the existential nature of human suffering. In fact, Klein's phenomenology looks at moral growth through the lens of a human heart that bears its imprint on psychic experience.

Klein's phenomenological theory is one of two primary psychic state positions, each having its own unique constellation of defences, modes of object relations, and psychic structure. In The Matrix of the Mind, Ogden (1986) has done an admirable job of offering clinical examples for the different mental experience of the two positions. Prior to his work, Segal (1964) gave clinical examples in An Introduction to Melanie Klein. My own books, The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (Kavaler-Adler, 1993a), The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (Kavaler-Adler, 1996), and Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (Kavaler-Adler, 2003b), also offer such clinical examples. Here, I wish to merely make some fundamental observations about the importance of Klein's psychic position theory and its independence from a metapsychology based on the death instinct.

 

Chapter Five - Developmental Evolution within the Theory of Melanie Klein

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Melanie Klein's phenomenology of the paranoid–schizoid and depressive positions is a developmental as well as a clinical theory. It is, however, a too limited developmental theory, as strictly defined by Klein's writings, and many clinician-theorists, including myself, are attempting to significantly expand Klein's phenomenology of developmental usefulness (Alexander, 1997; Ogden, 1986). To extend the developmental aspects of Klein's phenomenological psychic states, which are dynamic in their dialectic of regressive and progressive psychic motions, her death instinct metapsychology must be, at least partially, eschewed. The concept of primal trauma, similar to Balint's (1979) “basic fault”, can be accepted as a foundation for pathology as opposed to the notion of pure psychic conflict that is exclusively related to instinctual impulse.

For Klein, movements from the paranoid–schizoid to the depressive position state of mind are fundamental to primary developmental growth in self-integration, as well as the driving force of a continuing psychic evolution in an individual's way of thinking that takes place over the course of a lifetime. As long as primal trauma does not disrupt this natural developmental change, there is a vital shift in a self- and world perception that occurs in each of us in our primary years. This shift in psychic perspective becomes a progressive realignment of our emotional blueprint, as it effects our interpretation of our experience in the external world. The shift from the paranoid–schizoid to the depressive position is a progressive developmental shift due to the ability in the depressive position to tolerate all psychic parts of oneself, both loving and hating parts, so that an ambivalent state of good-enough love for the other as a whole (with good and bad parts) can be tolerated. Prior to the depressive position, the disowning of one's hate for a loved object places one in the dilemma of cutting off from any desired and needed object at the point of anger and disappointment. Wandering from one person to another, following each disappointment in love and in the idealised perfection of the “other” results in a fragmentation of experience that leaves us to exist in a fragmented self-state. Without primary sustained relationship in one's life, nothing is sustained.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Developmental evolution within the theory of Melanie Klein

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CHAPTER FIVE

Developmental evolution within the theory of Melanie Klein

elanie Klein’s phenomenology of the paranoid–schizoid and depressive positions is a developmental as well as a clinical theory. It is, however, a too limited developmental theory, as strictly defined by Klein’s writings, and many clinician-theorists, including myself, are attempting to significantly expand Klein’s phenomenology of developmental usefulness (Alexander, 1997;

Ogden, 1986). To extend the developmental aspects of Klein’s phenomenological psychic states, which are dynamic in their dialectic of regressive and progressive psychic motions, her death instinct metapsychology must be, at least partially, eschewed. The concept of primal trauma, similar to Balint’s (1979) “basic fault”, can be accepted as a foundation for pathology as opposed to the notion of pure psychic conflict that is exclusively related to instinctual impulse.

For Klein, movements from the paranoid–schizoid to the depressive position state of mind are fundamental to primary developmental growth in self-integration, as well as the driving force of a continuing psychic evolution in an individual’s way of thinking that takes place over the course of a lifetime. As long as primal trauma does not disrupt this natural developmental change, there is a vital shift in a self- and world perception that occurs in each of us in our

 

Chapter Six - Developmental Evolution within the Works of Donald W. Winnicott: Psychic and Transitional Space

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According to Rodman (2004), Winnicott's biographer, Anna Freud wrote to Winnicott that his “transitional object” concept had taken the world by storm. The transitional object is an external other that serves a mothering role in facilitating development. The transitional object is not a symbolic representative of the primal holding mother (the symbiotic or chthonic mother), but is the symbolic representative of Winnicott's transitional phase mother, equivalent to the mother of separation in the American separation–individuation stage parlance of Mahler (1971). The transitional object represents the mother who is more separate from the child than the early infant-holding mother (the mother of the primal “unity”), and is symbolic of a mother who is affectively present and attuned to the child. However, unlike the early holding mother who, through the reverie of psychic fantasy, has merged with her helpless and totally dependent infant, the transitional object mother does not symbolically fuse with the child and, ideally, she imposes no personal or narcissistic demands on the child. By being more separate from the child than the holding mother, the transitional object mother can relate to the child's developmental needs through words and vision without having concrete sensual body contact (see Wright, 1991). Whoever occupies the role of the transitional object operates symbolically as the transitional phase mother, if the real mother of that phase of development is inadequate. Thus, in Winnicott's thinking, the transitional object is a functional role assumed by psychoanalytic psychotherapists.

 

CHAPTER SIX Developmental evolution within the works of Donald W. Winnicott: psychic and transitional space

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CHAPTER SIX

Developmental evolution within the works of Donald W. Winnicott: psychic and transitional space

ccording to Rodman (2004), Winnicott’s biographer, Anna

Freud wrote to Winnicott that his “transitional object” concept had taken the world by storm. The transitional object is an external other that serves a mothering role in facilitating development.

The transitional object is not a symbolic representative of the primal holding mother (the symbiotic or chthonic mother), but is the symbolic representative of Winnicott’s transitional phase mother, equivalent to the mother of separation in the American separation–individuation stage parlance of Mahler (1971). The transitional object represents the mother who is more separate from the child than the early infant-holding mother (the mother of the primal “unity”), and is symbolic of a mother who is affectively present and attuned to the child. However, unlike the early holding mother who, through the reverie of psychic fantasy, has merged with her helpless and totally dependent infant, the transitional object mother does not symbolically fuse with the child and, ideally, she imposes no personal or narcissistic demands on the child. By being more separate from the child than the holding mother, the transitional object mother can relate to the child’s developmental needs through words and vision without having concrete sensual body contact (see Wright, 1991). Whoever occupies the role of the

 

CHAPTER SEVEN Dynamics of transitional space: pathological foreclosure vs. expansion in clinical treatment

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Dynamics of transitional space: pathological foreclosure vs. expansion in clinical treatment

n this chapter, a psychobiographical example is given to illustrate how the Winnicottian dimension of transitional space, which corresponds to the internal world’s psychic space, becomes foreclosed in those who are arrested with severe character pathology, without the intervention of object relations psychoanalytic treatment.

Then, several clinical vignettes are offered to illustrate the contrast of how two patients who underwent an in-depth “developmental mourning” process in object relations psychoanalytic treatment were able to open up the transitional space in their lives, corresponding with the internal psychic space in their intrapsychic life.

The psychobiographical example pertains to the lives I have studied in my former books. In The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes

Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), I have an extensive study of the life of Virginia Woolf. In this chapter, which was published earlier in my newly edited The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon

 

Chapter Seven - Dynamics of Transitional Space: Pathological Foreclosure vs. Expansion in Clinical Treatment

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In this chapter, a psychobiographical example is given to illustrate how the Winnicottian dimension of transitional space, which corresponds to the internal world's psychic space, becomes foreclosed in those who are arrested with severe character pathology, without the intervention of object relations psychoanalytic treatment. Then, several clinical vignettes are offered to illustrate the contrast of how two patients who underwent an in-depth “developmental mourning” process in object relations psychoanalytic treatment were able to open up the transitional space in their lives, corresponding with the internal psychic space in their intrapsychic life.

The psychobiographical example pertains to the lives I have studied in my former books. In The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), I have an extensive study of the life of Virginia Woolf. In this chapter, which was published earlier in my newly edited The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (2013), I cite some of the life phenomena that show the tragic foreclosure of transitional space in the life of Virginia Woolf. Following this, I offer clinical case vignettes from patients who pursued extensive object relations psychoanalytic treatment. It will be seen that these psychoanalytic patients (or analysands) were able dramatically to expand the dimensions of their lives, despite early pre-oedipal trauma, as well as later childhood trauma. Their internal worlds can be visited because they offered so much evidence of their growth from reporting dreams and fantasies from their internal worlds, as well as illustrating the expanding dimensions of their lives (their transitional space) in the changes within their external lives.

 

Chapter Eight - Winnicott's Contribution to the Understanding of Mirroring as a Developmental Process: The Klein–Winnicott Dialectic within

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In 1967, Winnicott wrote his paper, “Mirror-role of the mother and family in child development”. In doing so, he brought a primary aspect of developmental functioning to the awareness of psychoanalysts. Freudian and Kleinian analysts (who thought solely in terms of interpreting unconscious impulses or fantasies to make them conscious through interpretation) would greatly resist the developmental perspective that Winnicott was introducing into the British Psychoanalytic Society. Analysed by a Kleinian analyst, Joan Riviere, Winnicott would constantly find his ideas and their developmental focus on the environmental other, the mother and, later, the analyst, rejected and misunderstood. In America, Freudian analysts who congregated as medical elite in the conclave of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, were even more rejecting (Rodman, 2004).

Anna Freud was more sympathetic, as shown through Winnicott's correspondence with her, cited by Rodman (2004) in his biography of Winnicott. She validated Winnicott's contribution of the idea of the “transitional object” to the world of analysts at large.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT Winnicott’s contribution to the understanding of mirroring as a developmental process: the Klein–Winnicott dialectic within

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Winnicott’s contribution to the understanding of mirroring as a developmental process: the Klein–Winnicott dialectic within

n 1967, Winnicott wrote his paper, “Mirror-role of the mother and family in child development”. In doing so, he brought a primary aspect of developmental functioning to the awareness of psychoanalysts. Freudian and Kleinian analysts (who thought solely in terms of interpreting unconscious impulses or fantasies to make them conscious through interpretation) would greatly resist the developmental perspective that Winnicott was introducing into the British

Psychoanalytic Society. Analysed by a Kleinian analyst, Joan Riviere,

Winnicott would constantly find his ideas and their developmental focus on the environmental other, the mother and, later, the analyst, rejected and misunderstood. In America, Freudian analysts who congregated as medical elite in the conclave of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, were even more rejecting (Rodman, 2004).

 

CHAPTER NINE Narcissistic mirroring as perversion of developmental mourning

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CHAPTER NINE

Narcissistic mirroring as perversion of developmental mourning

Impingement vs. recognition arcissistic parents can pervert developmentally facilitating mirroring into an impinging mode of mirroring, “impinging” being a Winnicottian term. This impinging narcissistic mirroring demands the contrived and “reactive” false-self performance from the child (Winnicott, 1971b). Where the mirroring face of the mother allows for the child’s recognition of his inner emotional and self-state, the mirroring of a narcissistic parent reflects back recognition only for the performing behaviour that pleases the parent’s narcissistic view. This is not Winnicott’s depressed mother who mirrors back her own lousy mood, but the more omnipotent type of mother Winnicott referred to in his writings. And, although Winnicott did not deal with the father, the father has a primal (even if only secondary) effect on development (Kavaler-Adler, 1985, 1986). It is often the father who provides a form of narcissistic mirroring that encourages the child’s defensive compensation for earlier psychological lacks, wounds, or deprivations with the mother.

 

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