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Whitehead, C.C. (1975). Additional Aspects of the Freudian–Kleinian Controversy: Towards a 'Psychoanalysis' of Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:383-396.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:383-396

Additional Aspects of the Freudian–Kleinian Controversy: Towards a 'Psychoanalysis' of Psychoanalysis

Clay C. Whitehead


Conflict is a fundamental notion in psychoanalysis. Borrowing from the dialectic philosophies of Hegel and Marx, Freud early emphasized the importance of psychological conflict in the healthy development of the human personality. In a similar way conflict has also been crucial to the development and elaboration of psychoanalytic theory. Early examples include Freud's vigorous disagreements with Rank, Jung and Adler. The recent publication of the Jung correspondence reveals beyond doubt that these differences were motivated by personal conflicts as much as they were motivated by differences in theoretical perspective. Frequently, however, controversies in psychoanalysis have had a salutary and enlightening effect. Thus, despite the fact that Erikson's writings were at first disparaged by some members of the psychoanalytic movement, their gradual integration into the literature has resulted in deepened understanding and broadened perspectives. The writings of Melanie Klein have similarly generated much controversy in the psychoanalytic community, but at times this controversy has appeared to inhibit the integration and synthesis of valuable portions of Klein's contributions into the main-stream of psychoanalytic theory.

The elements of the Freudian–Kleinian controversy are extremely complex, and a full discussion of them is far beyond the scope of the present paper. Several levels, however, appear discernible. First, a level of personal conflict is involved.

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