Klein, Melanie

Melanie Klein (1882–1960) was an Austrian psychoanalyst who reached academic fame in the early 20th century for her work on psychoanalytic child psychology. Klein’s ideas included a strong belief in the therapeutic effects of child play.

Klein proposed that play afforded an opportunity for children to express their experiences and feelings. Kleinian psychoanalysis is one of the major school’s in psychology and an area you’ll cover if studying the subject at university.

The Psycho-Analysis of Children, first published in 1932, is a classic in its subject, and revolutionised child analysis. Melanie Klein had already proved, by the special technique she devised, that she was a pioneer in that branch of analysis. She made possible the extension of psycho-analysis to the field of early childhood, and in this way not only made the treatment of young children possible but also threw new light on psychological development in childhood and on the roots of adult neuroses and psychoses.

Love, Guilt and Reparation shows the growth of Melanie Klein`s work and ideas between 1921 and 1945. The earlier papers reveal her intense preoccupation with the impact of infant anxieties upon child development. She traces these influences on criminality and childhood psychosis, symbol formation and intellectual inhibition and the early development of conscience. In the final paper on the Oedipus complex, Klein develops her theories of the earliest infant stages of development, extending Freud`s analysis of the Oedipus complex and laying a basis for her own subsequent conceptualising of the paranoid-schizoid position in the first six months of life.

Melanie Klein’s writings, particularly on infant development and psychosis, have been crucial both to theoretical work and to clinical practice. Envy and Gratitude collects her writings from 1946 until her death in 1960, including two papers published posthumously.