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Furer, M. (1977). Psychoanalytic Dialogue: Kleinian Theory Today. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 25:371-385.

(1977). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 25:371-385

Psychoanalytic Dialogue: Kleinian Theory Today

Manuel Furer, M.D.

THE CAPTION "KLEINIAN THEORY TODAY" implies the possibility that Kleinian thought has evolved, that is, that the theory of today differs from the theory of the past. I gather that there is a first and second phase of Melanie Klein's work, the first having to do with particular vicissitudes of the destructive drive and with sadistic fantasies very early in life; the second, with the coordination of the psychic state of the infant with that of psychosis. A knowledge of the history of ideas enriches our understanding of them and will enlighten us in regard to the development of Melanie Klein's views.

The clearest succinct statement of Mrs. Klein's basic theoretical position I found in a panel discussion on the Mutual Influences in the Development of the Ego and the Id (Klein, 1952): "I have for many years held the view … that the ego functions from the beginning and that among its first activities are the defense against anxiety and the use of processes of introjection and projection… I have also repeatedly expressed the view that the ego establishes object relations from the first contacts with the external world… fantasies operate from the outset … and are the mental expression of the activity of both the life and death instincts" (pp. 51-52). With reference to this last, she says, "I differ from Freud in that I put forward the hypothesis that the primary cause of anxiety is the fear of annihilation, of death arising from the working of the death instinct within" (p. 51).

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