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King, P. (1994). The Evolution of Controversial Issues. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:335-342.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:335-342

The Evolution of Controversial Issues

Pearl King


The controversial issues concerning the differences of opinion about the validity of Melanie Klein's theory and technique did not arise suddenly when members of the Viennese Society joined the British Psycho-Analytical Society, before the outbreak of the Second World War. In this paper, I describe briefly the socio-historical, administrative and institutional background out of which these scientific divergences evolved alongside other issues concerned with how long members should hold office in the British Psycho-Analytical Society and therefore be in a position to influence the scientific disagreements and training policy in the Society. These causes for concern among members, which were discussed at five business meetings, are then summarised: they relate to differences of opinion with regard to Melanie Klein's contributions to psychoanalysis, the need for revision of the rules of the Society and the type of training in psychoanalysis that should be offered to candidates. Finally, proposals for different ways of exploring and perhaps dealing with these issues are discussed, including the decision to hold formal scientific discussions of Klein's point of view, once a month. These meetings are now referred to as the 'Controversial Discussions'.

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