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De Levita, D.J. (1983). A Few Remarks on H. Segal's 'Some Clinical Implications of Melanie Klein's Work'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 64:277-280.

(1983). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 64:277-280

A Few Remarks on H. Segal's 'Some Clinical Implications of Melanie Klein's Work'

David J. De Levita


Psychoanalysis, being a science, has continually to validate its hypotheses. As Miss King has narrated the history of, and Dr Segal has illustrated clinically, Melanie Klein has initiated work on mental functioning during the first year of life. Her concepts can now be put to the test since we have available a wealth of data on infant development. Some of these data fit in with Kleinian concepts. I doubt, however, whether these concepts will not have to be rewritten time and again like all other scientific concepts. She has made important contributions to the concept of inner reality by developing the sequence of internalization, projective identification and subsequent re-internalization. In my opinion it is unlikely that these mechanisms could ever function independently from external reality.

It is Melanie Klein's great merit that she has created a language understandable by the infant inside the patient, but I am not at all sure that this infant is listening from the very moment the patient lies down on the couch. It remains to be studied under what conditions the doors of defence can be opened to the analyst's interpretations. Although the excellent clinical material which was provided, highlights such moments of apparently sudden breaking through of understanding between patient and analyst, I have great difficulty in understanding myself the timing of these moments without taking into account the analysis, i.e. the analytic process in its totality. The valuable concept of the archaic positions as a kind of inborn potential of the personality, in my opinion does not at all need to exclude the contribution the later stages of development make to the psychopathology of the patient.

Melanie Klein has widened the scope of psychoanalysis by applying it to many kinds of psychopathology. To me personally that is her most valuable contribution. Whatever may become of her concepts and even if psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic therapy were to appear no longer the treatment of choice, all those who have been working in this field with children and adults have felt supported by her efforts.

Here is my question to Dr Segal: which are the doubts the Kleinians themselves currently have about Melanie Klein's opinions?

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