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Klein, M. (1935). A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States1. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:145-174.

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(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:145-174

A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States

Melanie Klein

My earlier writings contain the account of a phase of sadism at its zenith, through which children pass during the first year of life. In the very first months of the baby's existence it has sadistic impulses directed, not only against its mother's breast, but also against the inside of her body: scooping it out, devouring the contents, destroying it by every means which sadism can suggest. The development of the infant is governed by the mechanisms of introjection and projection. From the beginning the ego introjects objects 'good' and 'bad', for both of which its mother's breast is the prototype—for good objects when the child obtains it and for bad when it fails him. But it is because the baby projects its own aggression on to these objects that it feels them to be 'bad' and not only in that they frustrate its desires: the child conceives of them as actually dangerous—persecutors who it fears will devour it, scoop out the inside of its body, cut it to pieces, poison it—in short, compassing its destruction by all the means which sadism can devise. These imagos, which are a phantastically distorted picture of the real objects upon which they are based, are installed by it not only in the outside world but, by the process of incorporation, also within the ego. Hence, quite little children pass through anxiety-situations (and react to them with defence-mechanisms), the content of which is comparable to that of the psychoses of adults.

One of the earliest methods of defence against the dread of persecutors, whether conceived of as existing in the external world or internalized, is that of scotomization, the denial of psychic reality; this may result in a considerable restriction of the mechanisms of introjection and projection and in the denial of external reality, and it forms the basis of the most severe psychoses. Very soon, too, the ego


1 Read in an abridged form before the Thirteenth International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Lucerne, 1934.

2 The Psycho-Analysis of Children, chapters VIII. and IX.

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