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Vorus, N. (2006). Introduction: Central Concepts of the Freud-Klein Debates. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 5(3):259-267.

(2006). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 5(3):259-267

Introduction: Central Concepts of the Freud-Klein Debates

Neal Vorus

I've been Asked to Speak for 15 minutes about the History of Freudian and Kleinian thought, or at least the history of their differences, to set the stage for what is to come over this weekend. I'll begin by discussing the differences that emerged between the Viennese Freudians and followers of Melanie Klein during the Controversial Discussions of the 1940's, then follow this with a brief survey of the development of the British Kleinian and American Freudian perspectives since that time. Before I begin I'll just add the caveat that, while I'll be using the terms “Freudian” and “Kleinian,” I do so mainly in a historical context, and will say little about the current perspectives of these groups, especially on developmental issues. I'll leave that job to our distinguished speakers.

Melanie Klein

It may surprise some to learn that Melanie Klein was not always a controversial figure in psychoanalysis. She began her career as an analyst in Budapest, where she entered treatment with Ferenczi after reading Freud's book, On Dreams. It was with Ferenczi's encouragement that Klein began working psychoanalytically with children (Grosskurth, 1986), and her earliest papers clearly show Ferenczi's theoretical influence, especially her elaboration of the child's development from omnipotence of thought toward the dominance of the reality principle (Ferenczi, 1913). These ideas were a crucial precursor to Klein's developing views of phantasy that were later to prove so controversial.

But the greatest influence on Klein, from the beginning, was Freud.

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