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Meltzer, D. (1984). A One-Year-Old Goes to Nursery: A Parable of Confusing Times. J. Child Psychother., 10(1):89-104.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(1):89-104

A One-Year-Old Goes to Nursery: A Parable of Confusing Times

Donald Meltzer

The assumption of the unity of the mind must have had, one would think, a fatal blow from Charcot and the hypnotists, had it not been rescued by Freud with his view of the stratification of consciousness. But in his last years he came around to the view (1925) that the mind does in fact “split” itself into segments so isolated from one another that health and illness, for instance, can exist side by side in the individual personality. When Melanie Klein (1946), gave a new firmness to the concept of splitting in the personality, and thereby promoted the’ phenomenon of narcissism onto a structural rather than an instinctual plane, the consequences for the psycho-analytical model of the personality were extensive. First of all it brought the function of “attention” into focus and limited consciousness to what Freud has called “an organ for the perception of psychic qualities”. Consequently “narcissism” could be viewed as an organisational phenomenon, bringing infantile parts of the personality into collusion against the authority, experience and values of the parental figures (internal, external in the family, or cultural representations of such figures). The directional implications of narcissim under the earlier” Libido Theory” were now transformed into “egocentricity”, a view of the world in which the self stands at the centre.

The social and political implications of Freud's findings underwent a drastic change.

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