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Likierman, M. (2008). Melanie Klein and Envy: A Static Totalitarian Script or a Sample of our Protean Theories? Commentary on Paper by Joye Weisel-Barth. Psychoanal. Dial., 18(6):766-775.

(2008). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 18(6):766-775

Melanie Klein and Envy: A Static Totalitarian Script or a Sample of our Protean Theories? Commentary on Paper by Joye Weisel-Barth Related Papers

Meira Likierman, Ph.D.

I agree with Joye Weisel-Barth's main point. But I regret her impression that Klein “monopolized” envy. In the world of ideas, a concept cannot be appropriated as if it has been bought. We acknowledge the originator, but the concept belongs to our collective heritage. It is open at all hours and there is no entry fee. Quite apart from this, Klein's concept is not simple. I have discussed elsewhere the conflicting currents in her paper on envy and questioned traditional views. But even for Klein herself, envy is never isolated. It is always in a dynamic conflict with love. To my mind, Klein's envy was loaded with a further responsibility: to remind us of the worst in our nature. If we accept the full humanity of our patients, we must remain receptive to their cruelty as well as their love. In my own thinking, envy has a subtle relationship with admiration and is ever shifting on a spectrum, from a point of positive emulation to a point of destructive attack. Lastly, I enjoyed Joye's clinical work. But I expressed deep concern about the paedophilic activities disclosed by the patient.

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