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Melanie Klein
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Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein, (1882 - 1960), Austrian psychotherapist, built on the work of Sigmund Freud, particularly in the area of child psychology.

Invited by Ernest Jones Melanie Klein came to London in 1926, where she worked until her death in 1960.

Kleins theoretical work gradually seemed to center on a highly speculative hypotheses made by Sigmund Freud, concerning that life in the big picture may be an anomaly that is being drawn back towards an inorganic state, and therefore in an unspecified sense contains an instinct to die. In psychological terms Eros the sustaining and uniting principle of life is thereby postulated to have a companion force Thanatos seeking to terminate and disintegrate life.

Examining ultra-aggressive phantasises of hate, envy and greed in various very young and very ill children, Melanie Klein puts forth the interpretation that the human psyche is in a constant oscillation depending on whether Eros or Thanatos is in the fore. She calls the state of the psyche, when the sustaining principle of life is in domination, the depressive position, and the psychological state corresponding to the disintegrating tendency of life she gives the name the paranoid-schizoid position.

Melanie Kleins insistence on regarding aggression as an important force in its own right when analyzing children brought her into conflict with Anna Freud, the other major child psychotherapist working in England at the time - and a lot of controversies followed.