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Stein, R. (1990). A New Look at the Theory of Melanie Klein. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:499-511.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:499-511

A New Look at the Theory of Melanie Klein

Ruth Stein


This paper tried to show that Melanie Klein's theory can very profitably be viewed as a descriptive theory of strong emotions rather than an instinct or developmental theory. Furthermore, since in Klein's thinking feelings 'create' objects, the primacy of feelings in this theory is central. The paper contains a short chronological study of Klein's formulations of psychic phenomena in terms of affects. It is also maintained that the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions are constellations of affects and of reactions to them; that psychic development is essentially in terms of the capacity to tolerate feelings, and that the basic conflict in mental life is between feelings of love and hate and associated feelings. Such a view solves many of the conceptual difficulties of Kleinian theory and in addition promises rewarding insights into the world of feelings.

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