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Frank, C. Weiss, H. (1996). The Origins Of Disquieting Discoveries By Melanie Klein: The Possible Significance Of The Case Of ‘Erna’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1101-1126.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1101-1126

The Origins Of Disquieting Discoveries By Melanie Klein: The Possible Significance Of The Case Of ‘Erna’

Claudia Frank and Heinz Weiss

Using the example of the analysis of 6-year-old Erna, which extended over more than two years and was the longest treatment conducted by Melanie Klein in her Berlin years, the authors demonstrate the importance of her early child analyses for the development of some of her concepts and hence for a decisive advance in psychoanalysis itself. For this purpose they adduce unpublished original documents found among Klein's papers in London, which include autobiographical material, the text of her Würzburg lecture on her obsessional-neurotic little patient, handwritten session notes, and drawings by Erna herself. Although in the authors' view Klein attempted to accommodate her findings within Freud's theoretical framework, her clinical experience of the psychic reality of the relational world of early oedipality eventually called for the introduction of new concepts. The combined parent figure, primary sadism, the paranoid-schizoid position, splitting, the relevance of the death drive to the superego, and later formulations on reparation, envy and gratitude are all shown to be foreshadowed in Klein's account of the treatment of Erna. After some retrospective considerations of Erna's analysis and a fleeting glimpse of Erna as an adult, the authors conclude by emphasising the significance of Klein's emigration to England for the subsequent flowering of her work.

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