Melanie Klein and Early Object Relation Theory


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Klein recognized that, from birth, powerful innate aggressive drives posed fundamental obstacles to life. She understood and took seriously Freud’s theory that, with the individual as with the species, there is a brief flicker of life and then ultimately extinction and destruction as the death instinct prevails and all organic matter returns to the inorganic form. She attempted to develop a metapsychology to explain that which Freud never made clear: how do the life instincts fight this delaying action? In Klein’s view, this was accomplished by deflecting the death instincts outward in the form of aggression (as Freud said) and then attenuating this aggression through recurring cycles of projection and introjection of “good” and “bad” objects.

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