In this stimulating paper, read at the Seventeenth International Psychoanalytic Congress in August 1951, the author develops the theory that the origins of transference may be traced to early infantile object relations. She postulates that object relations begin at birth, a view, as she says, that disagrees with Freud's concept of narcissistic and autoerotic stages as precursors to the establishment of object relations. She points out, however, that Freud was not definite about this and adduces the equivocal and somewhat contradictory nature of his remarks as evidence to support her belief. Freud spoke of libidinal attachment to an object, the breast, as preceding autoerotism and narcissism. Mrs. Klein notes that her use of the term 'object' differs from Freud's, who meant by it the object of an instinctual aim. She finds further support in Freud's statement that the ego ideal is derived from identification with the father or with the parents. Mrs. Klein feels that this corresponds to her own formulation regarding introjected objects. She declares that she differs more from Anna Freud's ideas about the development of object relations than from the formulations of Sigmund Freud. This is so, she says, because Anna Freud emphasizes the precedence of
- 142 -
narcissistic and autoerotic stages and ignores other possibilities in Sigmund Freud's statements.
Recapitulating the theories detailed in her earlier papers, the author summarizes the earliest stages of development of the individual. In the first three or four months of life, anxiety is of a persecutory nature because of projection of the infant's deathinstinct and destructive impulses. Comfort and care are felt as good forces or as coming from a good object. The external object, the breast, is perceived as if split into a good breast and a bad breast, and good feelings are directed toward the good breast while destructive impulses and feelings of persecution are directed toward the frustrating bad breast. The splitting, denial, sense of omnipotence, and idealization involved produce the 'paranoid-schizoid position'. Projection and introjection initiate object relations. Growth of the capacities of the ego leads to synthesis of good and bad aspects of objects and gives rise to depressive anxiety. This is intensified by the increasing tendency of the infant to introject the mother as a person and to feel it is destroying the loved object by uncontrollable greed and aggression. This process reaches a peak at about six months, at which time the Oedipus complex sets in, aided by the drive for new aims and objects as well as the process of symbol formation.
The author states that these fomulations have helped her in analyzing very young children, and proceeds to describe their application to the analysis of schizophrenics and to analytic technique in general. She particularly emphasizes the importance of analyzing the negative transference, describing a splitting of transference into negative and positive, like the splitting of instincts into life and death instincts and of feelings into love and hate; splits and fluctuations characterize earliest object relations. It is necessary to analyze the negative as well as positive aspects of transference in order to analyze deeper layers of the mind and to distinguish reality from fantasy regarding the patient's past. It is also important to recognize total situations transferred from past into present. By consistent analysis of the splitting of objects, instincts, and feelings, by bringing past and present together, and by uniting loved and hated objects, the analyst succeeds in reducing guilt and anxiety, in diminishing defensiveness, and in establishing whole object relationships. Such integration strengthens the personality; in other words, synthesis takes place to make the personality richer and more effective and adequate.
Most of what Mrs. Klein describes as technical modifications resulting from her analytic work is today accepted analytic practice. Many will not agree that this fact necessarily confirms the reconstructions and formulations and chronology of development which she postulates. This article supplies no analytic evidence to support her views. Her contribution is nonetheless challenging and provocative toward further study and observation.
- 143 -
Bernstein, I. (1954). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIII, 1952. Psychoanal. Q., 23:142-143