Melanie Klein and Repression Mechanism
Social and clinical influences apparent from an examination of some unpublished notes of 1934
I find it convenient to divide her work into two phases. Until 1935, she was basically working within the theoretical framework of Freud and Abraham, though she made many changes in it, some of them inadvertent. After 1935, with the two papers on the depressive position (Klein, 1935, 1940), the paper on the paranoid-schizoid position (1946), and Envy and Gratitude (1957), she developed a new theory of her own.
Spillius (1994, p. 325-326)
ABSTRACT: Fifteen pages of unpublished Notes were found in the Melanie Klein archives dating from early 1934, a crucial moment in Klein’s development. She was at this time, 1934, moving away from child analysis, whilst also rethinking, and revising her allegiance to Karl Abraham’s theory of the phases of libidinal development. These Notes, entitled ‘Early Repression Mechanism’, show Klein struggling to develop what became her characteristic theories of the depressive position and the paranoid-schizoid position. Although these Notes are precursors of the paper Klein gave later to the IPA Congress in 1934, they also show the origins of the emphasis she and her followers eventually gave to ‘splitting’ rather than repression. The Notes give us an insight into the way that she worked clinically at the time. We see Klein’s confidence develop as she diverged from the classical theories and technique. Her ideas were based on close attention to the detail of her clinical material, rather than attacking theoretical problems directly. The Notes show her method of struggling to her own conclusions, and they offer us a chance to grasp the roots of the subsequent controversy over Kleinian thought.
The aim of this paper is to introduce some significant pages of Notes from the Melanie Klein archives in the Wellcome Library in London .(1) My attention was drawn to these Notes because they are titled ‘Early Repression Mechanism’. Klein makes very few references indeed to repression in the sizable sum of her published work. In fact she emphasised ‘splitting the object’ at least as much in her early work, and in her later work she emphasised the mechanism of ‘splitting of the ego’, together with the extraordinary mechanism she called ‘projective identification’. Amongst other things, to understand the differences in usage between splitting and repression would help to clarify the misunderstandings between different schools of psychoanalytic thinking.
My interest in finding an extended set of Notes by Melanie Klein on ‘repression’, was therefore aroused, and directed towards an historical perspective to discover how Klein’s preference for the term ‘splitting’ had come into being (2) On examining the Notes they held very considerable further interest and importance
The date of the Notes indicated they were written in the early part of 1934. They do not actually carry a date, but circumstantial evidence from the content of the clinical material, indicates with some confidence they were written then. The Notes are not earlier than February 1934, since reference is made to patient T in the ‘first half of Feb 1934’ (Section I, page 1). Later, there is a reference to Goering and Dimitroff (Section II, page 8). Dimitroff was accused of setting fire to the Reichstag in Nazi German – in February 1933. He was tried in December 1933 when Goering appeared in the proceedings and harangued the court (surprisingly, Dimitroff was acquitted). All this indicates a date during 1934 and after February that year. This is a very significant date, since Klein’s thinking was in an active process of change at this very moment.
Spillius described a change around 1935, the date of publication of Klein’s paper on the depressive position, although presumably the paper took a while to generate (in fact Klein gave it initially at the Lucerne Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association in August 1934). Petot (1990, 1991) also described two similar phases - between 1919-1932, and 1932-1960. The period between 1932 (the publication of The Psychoanalysis of Children) and 1934, the depressive position paper (‘A contribution to the psychogenesis of manic-depressive states’, published 1935), is crucial in any account of Klein’s thought. These Notes are from exactly that moment.
There were three dimensions to Klein’s re-conceptualisation of her work at this time: (a) her move from working primarily with children to working with adults; (b) her emerging independence from the classical concepts of Freud and Abraham, especially Abraham’s libidinal phases of development; and (c) at this time, her ambitions moved on from understanding neurotic mechanisms to exploring psychosis (3).
These Notes give an insight into Klein’s struggles to think through her clinical material, and they indicate the beginnings of the ideas that will form the basis of her two great innovations – the depressive position (Klein 1935) and the paranoid-schizoid position (1946). In addition, because the Notes consist of attempts to organise her thoughts about clinical material, they are an unusually transparent window into how she actually worked with patients.
Child and adult psychoanalysis
Nearly all of the clinical material of the Notes relates to adult patients; there is one child, ‘A’, out of the five patients mentioned. Her book The Psychoanalysis of Children (1932), had drawn on her substantial clinical material from the early 1920s when she was developing her own method of child analysis, her ‘early technique’ as she called it. Her method was roundly criticised by Anna Freud (1926) (4), and equally strongly defended in a Symposium in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (1927) by her colleagues and supporters in the British Psychoanalytical Society in London where she had settled in 1926.
Her method led her to postulate certain amplifications of Freud’s theories, and more specific details of infant development in the pre-genital and pre-verbal phases, using the same method of genetic continuity as Freud in his extrapolation from adults to children (5). Her book was therefore a thought-out presentation of her method and its results. All through it, she had proclaimed her loyalty to Freud and to her analyst Karl Abraham, and her Notes show her continuing to struggle with this loyalty, whilst being pushed towards more original observations of her own (6).
From the early 1930s she became much more involved in treating adults (7). Her book had brought about a degree of closure on her work with children. From a theoretical point of view, it was important to test the significance of her findings in the analysis of adults (8). She began to play her full part in psychoanalytic training, and became a training analyst in 1931 when she took her first candidate (Clifford Scott) into analysis. So, she was moving definitively into adult work as she was completing the text of her book on children.
Klein’s method of working comes across very clearly in the process records she gives in the Notes. We should bear in mind that in her analytic practice with children, she had become extremely observant of the details of the manoeuvring of toys in play. It is striking that in her work with adults there appears to be the same precision in her observation of the patient’s thoughts. It is as if they are objects like toys to be manoeuvred safely in relation to each other. In this way, she allowed the patient to convey the internal picture for himself. For instance, one can see the thoughts being dealt with in the way a child might put a doll to bed to sleep. ‘Thoughts are put to sleep, i.e. the bad object, excrements, etc’ (Section I, page 2). Or in Section II, page 1:
I did not hear about the paper he was writing until the failure arrived. I was not to be involved into the deeper thoughts connected with this paper and the book, as there were continuous conflicts going on, which were the result of his different internalised objects playing different parts in this production (crime).
The characterisation of this as a dramatic production is clear; it corresponds to the narrative structure of children’s play. In this case, the drama was about controlling the relation between the thoughts and the analyst. A third example in the Notes:
A similar instance St who feels continuously hindered in his work by the anxiety that if he has got a good thought it would be taken away by the enemies inside him, who would only interfere when it is worth while. So the anxiety increases if it is a good thought. Associations of going up a mountain, leading sheep while he has to control enemies which follow on and which he has to control continuously so that they should not disturb the sheep (Section II, page 1a).
These objects are evaluated as good and bad giving rise to an anxiety about keeping the good ones safe. In these examples we see various kinds of relations expressed in a dramatic form; in the three examples the thoughts relate (a) to the self, (b) to the analyst (external object), and (c) to each other, just as children play in these various ways.
The challenge of psychosis
Klein was keen to understand psychosis. When she moved to Berlin in 1921, it was a time when Abraham (her second analyst) was actively interested in manic-depressive patients. He published his most important work, ‘A short account of the development of the libido’ based on manic-depressive states, in 1924, the year that Melanie Klein was in analysis with him. Klein’s high regard for Abraham was a formative influence, and her interest in psychosis probably had that formative root. A second factor, occurred in 1929, when she analysed Dick, an autistic boy (Klein 1930a). Dick showed a disorder of the very process of representation and symbol-formation on which play depends – not just a disorder expressed in the dramatic representations of play.
A further factor that stimulated Klein’s interest in psychosis, was that in the late 1920s until the early 1940s medically trained people – psychiatrists – were beginning to join her circle – Clifford Scott was probably very influential, and Winnicott was also drawn to Klein, though more because of her child work. Later, Paula Heimann, Herbert Rosenfeld, Hanna Segal and Wilfred Bion were all medically trained and collaborated on her project to analyse schizophrenic patients. Klein’s paper in 1934 was clearly her first detailed attempt to penetrate the dynamics and aetiology of a major psychosis in her own terms (9). Her intention, following the analysis of Dick, appears to have been to develop an understanding of the mind-obliterating mechanisms of schizophrenia. But in 1934, instead of pursuing her original intention, she reverted to her interest in the work of Freud and Abraham on manic-depressive psychosis. The Notes give an insight into that transition.
Klein’s emerging independence
In 1926, Klein had also moved from the relatively obscure place she had within continental psychoanalysis, to become a kind of star in the British Psychoanalytical Society, which was relatively distant in geography and language from the heart of psychoanalysis. She had a different relationship with colleagues and assumed a degree of scientific leadership of the Society (10). Both in her own thinking and in her professional context, Klein received a major boost to her confidence and reputation. It gave her increased freedom to develop her own ideas; at the same time, distance protected her somewhat from Anna Freud and other continental analysts.
From this point on she claimed the freedom to develop her own ideas. Although she had pursued her independence of thought up to 1932, it was always presented in a discourse that minimised the differences from the classical psychoanalytic authors (Freud and Abraham). After this transitional moment, she abandoned that caution. The Notes display that new freedom, but not with a smooth account of original thinking and coherent argument. The Notes are more interesting. They provide an insight into the very process of invention. There is evidence (considered below) that the physical sequence of the Notes was reworked at least once: the pages were re-ordered, then divided into two separate sections, and pages were interpolated (three of them), some of which appear to have been originally intended for an alternative place in the Notes. This process of re-ordering gives the Notes a somewhat fragmented quality and in particular a confused sense of purpose in the Notes.
Reconstructing a shape to Klein’s thinking, it appears she began the Notes with the intention to display the survival of very antiquated methods of defence, as fixation points to which could be assigned the cause of psychosis. This implies defences which were variants of the classical process of repression – hence her title ‘Early Repression Mechanism’. She conceptualised this as a continuum, or dimension, from early mechanisms to late ones. This was rooted in early mechanisms that Freud speculated about in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (Freud 1926):
It may well be that before its sharp cleavage into an ego and an id, and before the formation of a super-ego, the mental apparatus makes use of different methods of defence from those which it employs after it has reached these stages of organisation (Freud 1926, p. 164).
Freud had described a discontinuity between different defences (11). Already in a paper that depended a good deal on her conclusions from the Dick analysis, she also asserted:
The earliest defence set up by the ego …, in conformity with the degree of sadism, is of a violent character and differs fundamentally from the later mechanism of repression. In relation to the subject's own sadism the defence implies expulsion, whereas in relation to the object it implies destruction. (Klein 1930a, p. 232).
However, by the time of the Notes, Klein had moved her position and given herself the freedom to reconsider the relationship which Freud had mused about. She started the Notes with the idea of a continuity of mechanisms from early (psychotic) to later (repression).
As she worked on the Notes, modified, added, and re-arranged them, she developed a rather different focus. One of her patients (Rt) was occupied by his discovery that he had negative and derogatory attitudes towards his analyst. They were a set of feelings of which he had not been consciously aware, and he had kept in his mind only his positive feelings. In the course, and as a result of, the analysis he did become aware of the negative side to his feelings, and thus an ambivalence towards the person he knew as a friendly and helpful person. This shocked the patient, and it attracted Klein’s fascinated attention. In order to bring some order to her understanding of the observations, she re-organised the Notes so that her original intention – the dimension of defences – was condensed into the first pages. Then the latter part became an extended description of ambivalent material.
Instead of describing the continuity of defences under the term ‘repression’, she separated them into two sections. In a section headed ‘I’, she described the earliest defences that varied around the degree and character of sadism and how the patient dealt with (and destroyed) his own thoughts. Part II was then re-organised (not entirely satisfactorily) to deal with the other end of the spectrum, and turned into her new-found interest in ambivalence, so that it became largely an extended clinical discussion of Rt’s material.
It is clear Klein was on her way to finding original answers to the problem of psychosis, though she was certainly not ‘there’, as yet. At the same time, she retained her allegiance to the classical notion of repression, towards Abraham’s theories of sadism, and towards the notion of fixation points. Because of her dedication to an approach that left classical theory undisturbed (at least in her own mind), it was a struggle to sort out the conclusions that her material pushed her towards, as it now took her away from the received theories to which she remained loyal.
Klein’s struggle involved relinquishing some of the importance of Abraham’s notion of the progressive development of the libidinal phases and the character of sadism in each of them. At the same time, it gave her confirmation of the ambivalence both Freud and Abraham saw at the root of manic-depressive illness. Freud had discussed this in relation to mourning and melancholia (Freud 1917), and Abraham had discussed it in terms of normal mixtures of love and sadism in various proportions in the course of the libidinal phases. She must therefore have been attentive to Rt’s shock over his own feelings because it seemed a reflection of those Freud and Abraham described. Because they had found this confluence of impulses in manic-depressive illness, this material from Rt moved her away from schizophrenia and away from the intention that I surmised she had after her analysis of Dick, and the 1930 paper (Klein 1930a, 1930b).
One can say that the later interest in ambivalence combined the ideas of Freud and Abraham on depression, with her own unique way of seeing material as the expression of internal struggles. Whereas Freud and Abraham described the conflict of impulses towards objects (and towards the self, in Freud’s case) and the pain arising from this conflict, Klein took an interest in the ego’s struggle to handle and dissipate the conflictual ambivalence. Thus, Klein described the ego as an agent that was not merely driven by the conflicting impulses in a determinate way, but was the agent that handled and manipulated those impulses.
With her experience of child’s play, and her success in unravelling its hidden meanings, she described ambivalence in the same characteristic way - as ‘play’ with the internal ‘toys’, i.e. thoughts. The ‘play separated the contents of the mind so that the good ones could be kept safe. This led to the originality of her contribution - to combine the notions of ambivalence with ‘playing’ with internal objects. This full theory is not spelled out in her Notes, yet only months later she fully worked it out in the published paper on manic-depressive states (Klein 1935).
Later, she did come back to the differentiation of early and late defences, when she described the paranoid-schizoid position (Klein 1946). However, the later descriptions are in a different vein. Whereas in the Notes she had originally emphasised the continuity of the defences, in the later paper in 1946 she emphasised the differences. In the Notes, she retained the term ‘repression’ to cover both early and late defences, and used phrases such as ‘along the line of’. She seems to have done so in order to stick with Abraham’s descriptions of the continuity of development of the libidinal phases. However, in 1946 she explicitly contrasted repression, as a late defence, with ‘splitting of the ego’ as an early defence; for instance, ‘in this early phase splitting, denial and omnipotence play a role similar to that of repression at a later stage of ego-development’ (Klein 1946, p. 7).
For purposes of clarity, we can distinguish two separate contrasts. Klein originally intended to set early defences (evacuation/destruction) in relation to classical repression. In the re-ordered version of the Notes Klein had come to another contrast. That later contrast was between the early defences on one hand, and ambivalence on the other. In effect, at this point she had begun to work out the distinction between the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions.
These 15 pages of notes are typewritten, with a number of alterations inserted. They are Notes and are not in polished English. Klein had in fact learned English just prior to settling in England and had lived there for only eight years, since 1926.
Klein obviously worked over her Notes in the course of writing them, added pages (numbered 1a, 2a, etc), and re-ordered and renumbered the pages into two sections. The final result, as reconstructed (12) in the Appendix, is Section I with 2 pages, and Section II with 13 pages; the last page is actually typed on the reverse of the 14th page. As I have described, the re-ordering suggested that she started off her Notes with one intention but moved subsequently to another one. This presents the reader with some degree of unclarity and confusion, and to my mind betrays the struggles involved in coming to her new formulations. Despite that, the material in these Notes allows some important conclusions. In my comments I shall refer to the actual text as reprinted in the appendix to this paper.
Her method was to give relevant pieces of clinical material, often very short, with interpolated theoretical understanding. At the start, her selection of material and the way she understood it led to her sequencing the material according to the phases of libidinal development. Each mechanism was assigned to one or other of the sub-phases which Abraham (1924) had characterised with a different degree and character of sadism – the early and later oral phases, the early and late anal phases.
Notes to Text : Press 'back' on your browser to return to text.
They are file PP/KLE B89. The Notes to which I will refer are printed in full in the Appendix to this paper. Press BACK to return to text
In a previous paper (Hinshelwood 1997), I discussed the historical debate on the concept of ‘internal object’. The way it became implicated as a banner in the group dynamics of the psychoanalytic society as well as being a clinically derived concept, implicated various forces acting on the persons and the institutions as powerful factors in the development and divergence of concepts. Press BACK to return to text
Initially she looked for the very early fixation points and the mechanisms associated with them. That in fact follows Abraham’s careful exploration of the fixation points in the sadistic phases of libidinal development (Abraham 1924). Press BACK to return to text
It has continued to be harshly criticised down the years, including Glover’s fierce pamphlet (Glover 1945), and Gedo 1981. Press BACK to return to text
Freud had worked back from adults to children on the basis of genetic continuity. For a closely argued defence of this genetic continuity argument, see Isaacs 1952. Press BACK to return to text
Aguayo (2000) also makes this point: ‘Although Klein profusely cited Freud's pioneering work on locating the pre-latency origins of the neuroses in the Wolf Man case in her paper at Würzburg in 1924, at the First Conference of German Psychoanalysts these copious references were reduced to one footnote by the time she published the Erna case in her book on child analysis in 1932. For all that, Klein still felt compelled to represent herself as a staunch and loyal Freudian’ (Aguayo 2000, p. 747). Press BACK to return to text
In fact, she had always analysed some adults as well as children, certainly from her time in Berlin (1921-1926). One of the reasons given by Grosskurth (1986, p. 159) for Ernest Jones’ invitation to Klein to move to London in 1926 was to analyse his children, but also his wife, Katherine Jones. Press BACK to return to text
In effect, she moved in the opposite direction to Freud. In 1905, Freud asked his colleagues to report observations of children that would confirm his work with adults. The Little Hans case (Freud 1909) was the outcome of that initiative. In other words, Klein sought to demonstrate the psychoanalytic hypothesis of the genetic continuity of psychic life and processes from infancy to childhood, as well as from childhood to the adult. Press BACK to return to text
She had however writen a short paper on the psychotherapy of psychosis in 1930b. Press BACK to return to text
See for instance Aguayo’s (2000) account of the patronage offered Klein by Ernest Jones and the British Psychoanalytical Society. He contrasts that with the remarkable antagonism to Klein’s work in Vienna and Berlin from 1925 onwards. The need in Vienna, he speculated, was to find a loyal enough successor to Freud once the diagnosis of his cancer in 1923 had been made. What is less clearly enunciated is why Jones should have offered such a degree of professional (and personal) patronage, in direct conflict with Freud and continental psychoanalysts. One possibility (Hinshelwood 1997) is that Jones’ complex character needed an acolyte to enact his own independence of thought whilst he could simultaneously indulge his almost abject loyalty to Freud. Press BACK to return to text
Freud distinguished between repression and disavowal in his theorising of fetishism (Freud 1927) Press BACK to return to text
This reconstruction is not certain and other researchers might make a different one. Press BACK to return to text
Figure 1 – The first page of Melanie Klein’s 1934 Notes on ‘Early Repression Mechanism’
Starting with the early or deeper end of the dimension, which she associated with psychosis, Klein observed this clinical material from ‘A’, a child patient:
A having tried to fix up the bits of the internalised dangerous penis on a string, announcing that the bad man (his penis) should be kept in bed – prison – when anxiety increases, denies all the dangers and pretends everything is sleeping in him. Reminded of former material, where he faced the dangerous objects by burning and breaking them up, sincerely says: this is not true, - does not think this.
Thoughts are put to sleep like everything else was supposed to sleep, i.e. the bad object, excrements, etc. This mechanism would occur at a very early stage on the line of a psychotic defence […] the thoughts were identified with the internalised eaten bits of the dangerous objects. As the bits could not be kept in order, the thoughts had to be denied – put to sleep. (Section I, pages 1-2).
Here ‘A’ fails to deal with a bad and dangerous internal state. So, more desperately, the contents are made to sleep or are burnt and destroyed. The contents lose their energy and in effect die. They are obliterated. She continued to regard this as a variant of repression – ‘This mechanism of repression ought to follow on quite closely on to the early internalisation process’ (Section I, pages 2). By early internalisation Klein means the oral phase, and thus the process is to deal with the oral-sadistic impulse to bite into bits.
Klein also described evacuative processes:
T. having spoken of fog as a poisoning bad thing – equated with his bad breath, excrements and bad words, which exhaust me, (note T. material first half of Feb 1934), showing his cigarette case being empty, cleaning it from outside and inside, says: - that what he thought before has nothing to do with today’s thoughts he always has a thought only when it is just needed. – Material shows that thoughts are equated to bad excrement and objects, and are not kept inside his mind (Section I, page 1).
As she says later, ‘the thoughts were to be evacuated like the fog’ (Section I, page 2). Evacuation from the mind is distinguished, together with the destruction of thoughts, from the other end of the dimension that approximates more to classical repression – ‘separating the different objects inside’ (Section II, page 1). Instead of obliterating the contents of mind, or evacuating them, the person separates them and keeps them apart:
St who feels continuously hindered in his work by the anxiety that if he has got a good thought it would be taken away by enemies inside him, who would only interfere when it was worth while. So the anxiety increases if it is a good thought. Associations of going up a mountain, leading sheep while he has to control enemies which follow on and which he has to control continuously so that they should not disturb the sheep. Then he might still fall back from the top if he meets an enemy, but could be helped if he meets a friend (Section II, page 1a).
In this material, the patient described how he has to keep things apart in his mind so that good things, good thoughts, are not interfered with or disturbed. This internal separation is driven by a constant anxiety that if it fails then some disturbance will happen to him. The patient, Klein indicated, is describing a separation of thoughts, and this is the subjective account of what analysts call repression. There is an internal separation of contents, good from bad (sheep from enemies). If repression breaks down, i.e. separation of thoughts fails, he anticipates becoming disturbed.
A few pages into Section 2, Klein summarised the ways in which the mechanisms vary:
The mechanism – instance R. – of disconnecting oneself from the thoughts and actions of the internalised object, is a very early one and on the line of defence through denial of the psychic reality. The mechanism of hiding and changing thoughts because of being afraid of internalised object finding them out, – instance Rt. – seems a little later on the line of plotting and attacking objects with internal weapons, or making them fight each other, which would go along with the earlier anal-sadistic stage. Instance S. seems more connected with disconnecting things inside him, separating the objects, connecting more with the second anal-sadistic stage.
Here the idea would be to get away, to dissociate oneself from certain thoughts equated to faeces, attributed to the objects as their productions. Along with this the necessity to keep the good objects apart from the bad objects and their thoughts (Section II, pages 2a &2 (13)).
At this point (Section II, the second paragraph of page 2) Klein started her discussion of some extended material from the patient Rt.
Relational ambivalence: Rt has positive flattering thoughts about the analyst, her theories and what he expects of his analysis with her. However the patient reported a dream which sets her thinking further about the separation of thoughts, keeping the good from the bad -
Prof. L. (surgeon knows nothing about analysis) analyses him in front of students (suspicions about me that might give him away but actually says – would not mind if I would use his material) (Section II, page 2).
Implicitly there are mixed feelings here – both a suspicion of the analyst, plus an extreme co-operativeness. The dream brought associations:
Rt had read my book and deeply impressed that I lead certain fundamental things further. This implies to him that I will be more able to cure him than anybody else [….]
I am compared with the physician from whom I know from former associations that he does not think very highly of him, just as of somebody who can neatly or correctly carry out an operation, like he is careful about his appearance, but not really good in diagnosis and who was repeatedly blamed by his seniors and not very well judged by his students. Following associations show that [Dr] G. and [Dr] I. did not realise at all his illness, while I am quite right with what he feels to be my diagnosis. He is amazed to find that he actually, with one part of his mind, compared me with the unimportant physician who cannot diagnose well, and the other two men with good diagnosticians, while he knew that he has a triumphant feeling of having misled them. He says he must have thought so, but he cannot understand how he could, because he has just recently felt that I am the only one to help him (Section II, pages 2- 3).
The patient’s ambivalence is described in further associations
… Prof. C. – good diagnostician, the physician Dr H.I. – bad diagnostician but neat and accurate – standing for me. (Patient dislikes Dr H. I. thoroughly) He always puts himself in the foreground, his importance and so on. – This alludes to the fact that the patient recently discovered in his analysis that I go further in analysis of melancholia than Freud and Abraham. Here too the patient is amazed to find that while he admires this and is grateful for it, he at the same time in other layer of his mind belittles me, is sarcastic and so on (Section II, page 2a).
Klein is represented in the dream by two contrasting figures, Prof C and Dr H.I. The patient views them in opposing ways, admiring or belittling. This separation of the object into good and bad manifestations as Rt did with his analyst, was called ‘splitting of the object’ by Klein in her work with children. These alternating perceptions of the important (primary) figures – the good breast versus the bad breast, for example – were features of the play she described in The Psychoanalysis of Children. However the internalised versions of these opposing figures became important concepts at this time (14).
From this point onwards, Klein’s interest changed. No longer the mechanisms by which the patient maintains a safe internal state, in this case separation of the opposing ideas – she is now interested in his ambivalence; both is impressed with Klein, and at the same time ironic and sarcastic. Instead her interest turned to the patient’s ‘amazed’ state of mind when he realised his very mixed feelings. In other words, she was interested in the moments when the repression was lifted and a fuller appreciation of the internal state became apparent to the patient. When Klein described to the patient how his mind was dealing with the opposing currents of feelings, he gave not just confirmatory associations, but a very graphic picture of the dangerous internal situation which the patient contemplated:
When I suggested to him this concealing and deceiving way is going on in his own mind, (from all the material just described), how he has to keep apart thoughts and objects, he, while listening to me – thinks of an article he read:– A trainer who managed to have in one cage lions and tigers. Most dangerous. One lion bit a tigress in the throat, - she died. One young lion was made not to feel superior, was made to feel meek, by his brothers being put into the same cage, who, when he started fighting, ill-treated and wounded him thoroughly (Section II, page 4).
This dangerous and potentially murderous situation, pictured in terms of the lions and tigers, comes in a communication about the fears of dangers within the internal world of mental objects and relations. Internal mental objects can be wounded and die. She was at this moment precisely indicating the situation at the centre of the depressive position that she would describe explicitly a few months later.
Her attempts to use the psychotic-neurotic dimension do not disappear altogether; she simply seemed more drawn to Rt’s amazement at his own ambivalence, and the threats to the representations in his own mind that result. Her loyalty to Abraham’s thinking on the libidinal sub-phases also remains, but it too was diminishing as her own new conceptions emerged. This evidence of the development of her thinking during 1934 suggests we are witnessing the moment when the idea of the depressive position began emerging in her mind. To Freud and Abraham’s theories on the ambivalent confluence of love and aggression in depression, she added the ambivalence towards the thoughts and representations within the person’s own mind – ambivalence towards the internal objects.
Discussion and conclusions
Klein’s Notes are of considerable interest for a number of reasons. They date from a period of transition in her career. She was also in the midst of a personal crisis at that time. They demonstrate her ambition to solve the riddle of psychosis. They antedate by a few months her first paper on the depressive position. They also offer a particularly clear window onto the carry-over of clinical technique Klein used in her work with children
Klein’s personal crisis: The years 1933-1934 were ones of considerable personal adversity on several counts. It seemed that this reached a peak in mid-1934. Klein had always been prone to spells of depression, including postnatally in 1904 (after the birth of Melitta, her daughter), in 1907 (after the birth of Hans) and in 1914 (after the birth Erich) (15). When her unhappy marriage finished in 1920, Klein had a deeply romantic affair with Chezkel Zvi Klötzel, from 1925 (16), but this ended in 1933 when Kötzel emigrated to Palestine. That sad ending coincided with the beginning of an entrenched and bitter opposition to her work by her daughter, Melitta Schmideberg an analyst herself. Because of these reversals, Klein sought further psychoanalytic help from January to July 1934, with Sylvia Payne (Grosskurth 1986). So, she worked on her Notes in this context of a personal crisis. Typical of her, she coped with a crisis by throwing herself into her work. The struggles to which the Notes attest must represent her resort to work. Then, in April 1934, her son Hans was killed in a climbing accident, resulting in a period of bereavement and depression which must have made the Rt material in the Notes especially relevant. Her efforts to continue working produced the paper on the depressive position in August that year. Thus a period of unhappiness and followed by a period of intense mourning was a background to her work (17). It is not uncommon for a death to stimulate creative work but in Klein’s case it actually moulded her work as well, by making her revisit Freud’s classic study of mourning (Freud 1917), and Abraham’s developments of it.
The depressive position (1934): The depressive position paper was read in August 1934 following this traumatic period. It took from her earlier child work the observation and experience of internal objects, which adult patients manipulate in the way a child manipulates physical toys. However, the paper also drew on the two central ideas in the Notes: early defence mechanisms and emotional ambivalence.
In that published paper (Klein 1935), she stressed the internal situation, the damage to the psychic representations which are felt as actual objects within the self related to in ambivalent ways. She described the depressive position arriving in early infancy as a change in relation to the object:
For the ego, when it becomes fully identified with the object, does not abandon its early defence-mechanisms… [T]he annihilation and expulsion of the object… initiate the depressive position. If this be so it confirms my concept of the genetic connection between paranoia and melancholia (Klein 1935, 265).
The hostile relations with objects evolves in a continuity, she says, towards the fear of internal bad objects that threaten internal good ones. Or, as she succinctly put it,
The dread of persecution, which was at first felt on the ego’s account, now relates to the good object as well and from now on the preservation of the good object is regarded as synonymous with the survival of the ego (Klein 1935, p. 264).
Klein described here the important consequences of ‘identifying’ with representations, the good objects - inside the ego. The newness of her idea is stated thus, ‘With this change in the relation to the object, new anxiety-contents make their appearance, and a change takes place in the mechanisms of defence’ (p. 264). The central thrust of her paper is to make the contrast before and after this change in the relation with objects – in effect, from what she calls paranoia to a relationship of sad concern for the object. That emphasis stands out in the material that Rt. gave her – such as his ‘amazing’ suspicion whilst admiring his analyst.
Klein constantly made reference to the similarity between the depressive position and paranoia, and how the first evolves out of the second. She gives an honourable nod to Abraham’s distinction between the two conditions. With these considerations, the paper strikes a much more theoretical tone than the Notes which stick so closely to the struggle a patient conducts with his own thoughts and feelings, leading to aggression, expulsion, repair and ambivalence
Klein turned in the 1934 published paper to the defence mechanisms in the depressive position. She drew on the idea in the Notes of ‘blotting out’ or ‘putting thoughts to sleep. In the paper however, it became ‘scotomatization, the denial of psychic reality’, as ‘one of the earliest methods of defence’ (p. 262). As in the Notes, she attributed this to the impulses of the early anal phase. The paper contrasted the ego’s destruction of its objects in the phase prior to the depressive position (called at the time the ‘paranoid position’ – Klein 1932) with the depressive emphasis on protecting and saving the object if it is felt to be good (Klein 1935). This accords with the similar contrast in the Notes in which early mechanisms when thoughts are obliterated or evacuated are contrasted with later repression. The idea of repair comes in strongly in the paper, and patient ‘A’ from the Notes is mentioned as feeling ‘anxiety how to put the bits together in the right way and at the right time’ (p. 269). ‘A’ was the child who failing to put the bits back together again (reparation) then resorted to an earlier mechanism – putting thoughts to sleep.
There are two extended pieces of clinical material in the paper. The first refers to internal objects – tapeworms inside the patient’s abdomen which represent his parents. They give rise to anxiety about destructive parents, and also about attacking and spoiling them and their intercourse. This case emphasises the internal world of objects. The dreams in the second case are more specifically about the patient’s aggression and then pity especially towards the father and his penis. None of this material is from the Notes, and she never used the clinical material from ‘Rt’ in published papers.
Technique: Klein’s technique comes through clearly in these Notes. The practice of psychoanalysis had evolved uncertainly in a number of directions. Around the time that Klein was in analysis with him, during and immediately after World War 1, Ferenczi was beginning to move in his own direction. He had experimented in various ways; one particularly egalitarian experiment gave rise to the kind of co-work principle which Balint latter promoted (Balint 1939). One can certainly be impressed with the emotional closeness and fellow-feeling, that appeared to exist between Klein and her patients too which emerges in these Notes (18).
When she went to Berlin, in 1921, she was no doubt influenced by Abraham’s technique as he practiced it in 1924 when Klein was in analysis with him. It is likely (though not certain) that he, like Ferenczi, was reaching towards a greater use of the treatment situation, but in a different way. He gave greater emphasis to the process, specially as thie was informed by patients’ phantasies. This would have connected with her work with children where she observed phantasy played out with objects which illustrated the child’s struggles with its own impulses and feelings.
Transference: Whilst Abraham (1924) described the way in which patients in phantasy manoeuvred the representations of objects inside themselves, Klein followed the way patients manoeuvred their feelings, wishes and thoughts with the same interior concreteness. For Klein internal objects were the feelings and thoughts, as well as the internal representations of primary and external objects. This gave the transference a special quality in these Notes. The feelings for the analyst were also objects which needed manipulating. Thus, thoughts and feelings are internal objects. They have to be handled in the setting but connect with the concrete experiences of relations elsewhere (19). The objects struggled with are the feelings, right now; the transference is no longer the struggle with the analyst as the representation of another person from the patient’s past (or even present). At the same time the treatment relationship is occupied with the thoughts and feelings about the analyst as an external figure too, one which can be a friend who could help with the internal situation (or maybe hinder the struggle).
At this stage the help the analyst could offer is not clear. It could be to assist with the mechanism of separation (defensively), or it could be to manage the internal situation in a less defensive way (20).
Structure and content: Because Klein was attentive to the patient’s struggles with his own ego-functioning and its products (his good and bad feelings and wishes) she gained a quite original purchase on the way the mind operates upon itself. The awareness of good or dangerous ways of relating leads to mental activity, which actually creates mental structure – either the separation of thoughts, or their evacuation. The idea that some self-reflective activity can receive awareness of the structure of the mind was described by Freud (1911) and called ‘endopsychic perception’. As many have noted it is implicit in dream censorship. Abraham went a stage further in which he recognised in his patients’ dreams and delusions an omnipotence of fantasy, in which intentional mental activity – projection and introjection – results in actual effects on the mind.
The possibility that endospsychic perception is an awareness of the structure the mind, or can lead to changing it has received considerable scepticism. In his paper on internal objects, Sandler (1990, expanded in Sandler and Sandler 1998) specifically asserted that the structure of the mind is not part of that experiential world. He distinguished
…. between the experiential content of a mental representation – the perceptual and ideational content – and the structural organisation behind the content, an organisation that lies outside the realm of conscious and unconscious experience (Sandler 1990, p. 869).
The Notes in fact provide a powerful counter-example that thoughts are intentionally separated in a process that creates the repression barrier. That description comes from the patient’s mind, not in the analyst’s.
Nowhere in her published work does Klein illustrate how the minds of her patients operated upon their own functions, as she does in these Notes. Repression, as separation of thoughts is a product of unconscious phantasy; for instance in the material about the sheep going up a hill and the need to keep enemies away (Section II, page 1). The separation of the contents, especially the products of the ego, creates the structure of conscious and unconscious (21). Thus, instead of the mental structure of conscious and unconscious being there for the purpose of repression, Klein’s approach implies the structure is the outcome of these processes. (22)
Later developments: She was only beginning to explore these internal processes which underlie the splitting of the object to which she had given great attention to in the 1920s.
The mind as the agent in manoeuvring its thoughts for the purposes of safety led to the development of another concept, ‘unconscious phantasy’. Klein, Susan Issacs and others came to understand its importance in the course of the Controversial Discussions in 1943 (Isaacs 1952, King and Steiner 1991).
During the 1940s, some of her students, with her encouragement, began to work with psychotic, schizophrenic patients. The upshot of this was her own paper on schizoid mechanisms (Klein 1946). There she described the fundamental mechanisms of ‘splitting of the ego’ (23), which obliterated parts of the ego and its functions by projection into the external objects ‘As far as the ego is concerned the excessive splitting off and expelling into the outer world of parts of itself considerably weaken it (Klein 1946, p. 8). In the Notes she had described an evacuative process, for example when the man empties his cigarette case (Section I, page 1), which corresponds to ‘projective identification’, a term she adopted in 1946 to describe exactly that kind of evacuation (24). Thus, the processes she described as nearly psychotic at the beginning of her Notes were not abandoned for ever. As she said at the beginning of that paper, her interest in these schizoid processes dates from ‘even before clarifying my views on the depressive position’ (Klein 1946, p. 1). She could have had, and probably did have, her 1934 Notes in mind.
The very concrete mode of manipulating thoughts linked back to Freud’s notion of the omnipotence of fantasy in the Ratman case (Freud 1909b). However, it also seems to presage concrete ‘symbolic equation’ which Segal (1957) described. It appears to link also Bion’s idea of thoughts in search of a thinker (Bion 1970). These links hint that Klein’s particular way of seeing clinical material was probably still in use when Segal and Bion were in analysis with Klein in the 1940s, and where they absorbed her technical approach so that later it influenced their new theories.
In the immediate aftermath of this personally difficult period, she wrote her depressive position paper, but perhaps not surprisingly there followed a relatively fallow period. However, the Archives preserve many notes from 1936-8 recording detailed material of depressive features of many patients, many entitled ‘mourning and melancholia’. These supplied her with the material for her second paper on the depressive position in 1938 (published 1940).
Continuity of defence: In 1932 (in Chapter IX of The Psychoanalysis of Children), Klein took up Freud’s (1926) speculation that that there were kinds of defences specifically aimed at dealing with aggressive impulses. Klein was interested in this clear-cut distinction between genital and pre-genital defences, because it connected with her own observations of young children. However, at the outset of writing her Notes she changed tack and emphasised the continuity, calling them simply ‘early repressive mechanisms’. Her investigation certainly exposed contrasts that exist between the early (evacuative) mechanisms and the late (separating) mechanisms, but the title is obviously intended to convey and stress the continuity between the early and late forms. When writing the depressive position paper, she referred to her concept of genetic continuity between paranoia and melancholia. Then in 1946, she changed again, returning to the stress on discontinuity; the mechanisms, processes and experiences of the paranoid-schizoid position are described as quite distinct from those of the depressive position.
This is a vacillating course of development of the ideas of repression and splitting. We are left wondering about the motives and strategy for these changes. Possibly she never really noticed such changes of theoretical structures. Very likely they were of little interest to her, as they had little relevance as she listened in to the practical efforts that patients made to struggle with themselves. Perhaps this is expressed in a different way of looking at the issue which she implied later. She talked in more fluid terms ‘the fluctuations in the process of integration’ (Klein 1957, p. 227). Reflecting on some case material in Envy and Gratitude (Klein 1957) she said:
I had no doubt that he was still splitting off a part of his personality, but the repression of greedy and destructive impulses had become more noticeable (p. 227).
There is the sense that in practice the patient will fluctuate from time to time between using one type of defence or another (25). Though splitting and repression are different defences, there is another kind of continuum between them – a time line.
In particular the moment when Klein’s originality assumed more confidence and authority is important for our understanding of how new terminology evolved, and old terminology bifurcated into different meanings. The way, for instance, the terms, ‘splitting’ and ‘repression’ are used in contemporary psychoanalysis is not simply a wayward deviance. Klein showed in the Notes how phenomena in her actual work were pushing her thoughts in a particular direction (26). Difference such as that between repression and splitting are not just arbitrary. They are the product of the combined forces, of evidence and speculation at the precise moment when the terms began to diverge.
Press BACK to return to text. In the way I have reconstructed the Notes, pages 1a and 2a come after page 1; and page 2 follows on from page 2a.
To add to the confusion there is another page numbered 2a (and originally numbered 4a, but crossed through. I have placed it after Section II, page 2 (itself originally numbered page 4, but crossed out and renumbered as page 2). These added pages have been included where their content makes most sense in my judgement. Even though it appears to break up sentences at times, I have tried to follow the continuity of thought.
In June 1933, Strachey read a paper to British Psycho-Analytical Society on the mutative interpretation about these distorting perceptions based on internal figures, and about their modification (Strachey 1934). A footnote to the published paper says, ‘Portions of this paper were read at a meeting on June 13, 1933’ (Strachey 1934, p. 127n), so the development of the idea of internal objects was clearly in the air at this time. It is not clear what relations Strachey’s paper on internalised figures making up the super-ego, had to Klein’s developing idea of internal objects. The timing of their contributions is significant, but one can only speculate on what discussion there was between them. Press BACK to return to text
The last of these had led her into analytic treatment during world War 1. Press BACK to return to text
This was an unhappy affair not only because her longings were not fully reciprocated, but also because Melanie Klein moved to London in 1926 (Grosskurth 1986). Press BACK to return to text
No-one develops theories without a considerable input of personal factors, as we know from Freud’s account of dreams (Freud 1900). Lussier (2000) has looked also at the factors impinging on Freud when he wrote ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (Freud 1917); whilst I tried to contextualise Klein’s idea of internal objects in terms of personal, organisational and social factors (Hinshelwood 1997). Press BACK to return to text
Ferenczi also began his collaboration with Rank on active technique around this time (Rank and Ferenczi 1924). Using the treatment relationship in a very non-analytic and rather manipulative and didactic way which harked back to the suggestive techniques which Freud had so decisively dismissed (Freud 1912-13), Klein seems to have been much less influenced in that development, probably by the influence of Abraham. Press BACK to return to text
This stress on transference is also to be found in her unpublished lectures on technique in the Archive (dated probably to 1936), described in an unpublished paper by Spillius (1994). Press BACK to return to text
It is likely that Klein had not at that stage thought this through. In fact, the analyst as an unwitting helper in the defensive organisation of the patient is only recently being understood in Kleinian terms (Joseph 1989, Steiner 1997, Hargreaves and Varchevker 2004).
Press BACK to return to text
In contrast, Freud’s view of repression is that it ‘is [not] present from the very beginning, and that it cannot arise until a sharp cleavage has occurred between conscious and unconscious mental activity’ (p. 147), thus the cleavage is prior to the onset of repressive mechanisms. He goes on to imply that earlier mechanisms operate before repression and would seem to be implicated in causing the cleavage. A fuller treatment elsewhere of how Klein’s conception of ‘repression’ relates to Freud’s definition is needed. Press BACK to return to text
The contrast with Freud’s views is striking. In his paper on repression (1915) he gives several views of the central feature of repression (the essence of repression lies simply in turning something away, and keeping it at a distance from the conscious’ (p. 147); ‘as a rule it creates a substitutive formation’ (p. 154; and ‘the mechanisms of repression have one thing in common: a withdrawal of the cathexis of energy’ (p. 154-155). These are quite different from what Klein makes of her material. It is as if she was not very cognizant of Freud’s exposition. Press BACK to return to text
Freud had used the term for a pathological manifestation of a division of the ego only in 1940 in his posthumous paper (Freud 1940), however it had been used to refer to the normal ‘grade’ in the ego that Freud had discussed as early as 1921. Searl (1932) however did refer to a pathological form of this in depersonalisation. Press BACK to return to text
As Forrester has pointed out (unpublished communication) others used the term previously, for example Brierley (1945); see also Scott (1988). Press BACK to return to text
This is in fact what she described with patient A, the child, in the Notes. When the child could not repair the bits, he reverted to a more primitive defence, putting the pieces to sleep. Press BACK to return to text
Freud’s much more restricted term ‘splitting’ arose out of considering very different patients, fetishists. Press BACK to return to text
Abraham, Karl 1924 A short study of the development of the libido, viewed in the light of mental disorders . In Selected Papers. London: Hogarth.
Aguayo, Joseph 2000 Patronage in the dispute over child analysis between Melanie Klein and Anna Freud—1927-1932. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 81: 733-752.
Balint, Michael and Balint Alice 1939 On transference and counter-transference, International Journal of Psychoanalysis 20: 223-230.
Bion, W.R. 1970 Attention and Interpretation. London: Tavistock.
Freud, Anna 1926 Einführung in die Technik der Kinderanalyse. Vienna: Internazional Psychanlyse Verlag.
Freud, Sigmund 1900 The Interpretation of Dreams. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volumes 3&4. London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1905 Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 7 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1909a Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 10 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1909b Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 10 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1911 Psychoanalytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 12 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1912-13 Recommendations to physicians practising psychoanalysis. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 12 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1915 Repression. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 14.. London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1917 Mourning and Melancholia. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 14. London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1926 Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety . In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 14 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1927 Fetishisms. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 21 . London: Hogarth.
Freud, Sigmund 1940**
Gedo, John 1981 Advances in Clinical Psychoanalysis. New York: International Universities Press.
Glover, Edward 1945 Examination of the Klein system of child psychology. Psychoanalytic Studiy of the Child 1:75-118.
Grosskurth, Phyllis 1986 Melanie Klein: Her World and her Work. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Hargreaves, Edith and Varchevker, Arturo2004 In pursuit of Psychic Change. London: Routledge.
Hinshelwood, R.D. 1997 The elusive concept of 'internal objects' and the origins of the Klein group 1934-1943. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 78: 877-897.
Isaacs, Susan 1952 The nature and function of phantasy. In **
Joseph, Betty 19** Psychic Equilibrium and Psychic Change. London: Routledge.
King, Pearl and Steiner, Riccardo 1991 The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-1945. London: Routledge.
Klein, Melanie 1930a The importance of symbol-formation in the development of the ego. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1930b The psychotherapy of psychosis. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1932 The Psychoanalysis of Children. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 2. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1935A contribution to the psychogenesis of manic-depressive states. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1940 Mourning and its relation to manic depressive states. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1946 Notes on some schizoid mechanisms. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 3. London: Hogarth.
Klein, Melanie 1957 Envy and Gratitude. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume32. London: Hogarth .
Paris, Martine Lussier 2000 ‘Mourning and Melancholia’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 81:667-686.
Petot, Jean-Michel 1979 Melanie Klein: Premières découvertes et premier système 1919-1932. Paris: Bordas.
Petot, Jean-Michel 1982 Melanie Klein: Le moi et le bon objet 1932-1960. Paris: Bordas.
Rank, Otto and Ferenczi, Sandor 1924 Entwicklungsziele der Psychoanalyse Vienna: Internazionale Psychanlyse Verlag. (The Development of Psycho-Analysis 1925. New York: Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing Company,)
Sandler, Joseph 1990 On internal object relations. Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Association 38: 859-880.
Sandler, Joseph and Sandler, Anne-Marie 1998 Internal Objects Revisited. London: Karnac.
Scott Clifford 1998 Memories and Reflections. In Psychoanalysis and the Zest for Living. Binghampton: ESF Publishers.
Searl. M.N. 1932 **
Segal, Hanna 1957 Notes on Symbol Formation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 37: 339-343.
Spillius, Elizabeth Bott 1994 Developments in Kleinian thought: overview and personal view. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 14:324-364.
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APPENDIX - Melanie Klein’s 1934 notes on the ‘Early Repression Mechanism’
Melanie Klein Archives, Welcome Trust Library of the History and Understanding of Medicine, Box 17, B89
These notes are typed double spaced on lined octavo sheets. In this appendix, the text is reproduced in Courier New, similar to the type font Klein used.
There are a number of alterations that she made to the text. Some words are crossed out, which are included in this version but with a strikethrough line. There are insertions between lines and in the margins. Typed insertions are represented in the same Courier New; insertions in pen are in italic. Some comments of mine are added in boxes in the margins.
There are a number of errors in her typing which I have left, insofar as I can present them in the following script.(Due to the limits of the editing programme some of these errors are difficult to show. For more details this paper can be downloaded as a word document.
I Early Repression Mechanism
I. On the line of blotting out things thoughts
like doing away with bad things. Instance: T. having
spoken of fog as a poisoning and bad thing –
equated with his bad breath, excrements and bad words,
T. first half of Feb
which exhaust me, (note material at the beginning of
February 1934), showing his cigarette case being empty,
cleaning it from outside and inside, says: - that what
he said before has nothing to do with to-day’s thoughts
he always has a thought only when it is just needed.–
Material shows that thoughts are equated to bad excre-
ment and objects, and are not to be kept inside his
mind, as well as the former inside his body.
Instance: A. having tried to fix up the bits of the
internalised dangerous penis on a string, announcing
that the bad man (his penis) should be kept in bed –
prison – when anxiety increases, denies all the
dangers and pretends everything is sleeping in him.
Reminded of former material , where he faced the
dangerous objects by burning and breaking them up,
sincerely says: this is not true,- does not think
I Early Repression Mechanism. (cntd.)
I Thoughts are put to sleep like everything else was
supposed to sleep, i.e. the bad object, excrements, etc.
This mechanism would occur at a very early stage on
the line of a psychotic defence. It goes along on the
line of a psychotic defence against the internalised dange
In the instance A. the thoughts were identified with the
eaten bits of the dangerous/ objects. As the bits could
not be kept in order, (the thoughts had to be driven out, (crossed out ))
the toughts had to be denied – put to sleep. This
mechanism of repression ought to follow on quite closely
on to the early internalisation process. The denial of
the internalisedbits (instance A) would, perhaps, be
an earlier repression mechanism than the one of instance
T. where the thoughts were to be evacuated like the fog,
because the latter seems more connected with ejection.
Early Repression Mechanism
II. On the line of separating the different objects
inside, and to keep the good – external – object away
from them. Instance R.,Several weeks in analysis
I did not hear about the paper he was writing until
the failure arrived. I was not to be involved
into the deeper thoughts connected with this paper
and the book, as there were continuous conflicts
going on, which were the result of his different
internalised objects playing different parts in this
production (crime). Ideal : - the secretary who
would just work at some part where she would just
follow out his orders without interfering with the
essential part of his book. In the analytic situa-
tion – me – the secretary, who would put right
some superficial part of his mind, but not get involve
with the bad object. At this time association
while he difficating and reading – that he felt
quite detached of the diffication process , it was
as if the lodgers ought to settle this between them-
selves, – the faeces being their products.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II) (whole line crossed out) 8.
II. Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II) 1a
more with the second anal sadistic stage. (whole line crossed out)
A similar instance St who feels continuously
hindred in his work by the anxiety that if he has got
a good thought it would be taken away by the enemies
inside him, who would only interfere when it is worth
while. So the anxiety increases if it is a good
thought. Associations of going up a mountain,
leading sheep while he has to control enemies which
follow on and which he has to control continuously
so that they should not disturb the sheep. Then he
might still fall back from the top if he meets an
enemy, but could be helped if he meets a friend.
The text on this page was cut from another page and stuck onto this one.
II Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II) 7.
The Sheep represented his thoughts and his strain at
working, the anxiety he feels to produce , impatience
about this, which he expresses that he has not enough
confidence in himself to let the thoughts simply
mature in him, but must bring them out to light quickly.
All this is felt as a struggle, strain and slavery.
In his case blotting out of thoughts , forgetting,
not thinking in analysis of things which had actually
happened, are very striking. Definite connection
with the objects disappearing because of being eaten
up. The mechanism – instance R. – of disconnecting
oneself from the thoughts and actions of the internal-
ised object, is a very early one and on the line of
defence through denial of the psychic reality. The
mechanism of hiding and changing thoughts because of
being afraid of the internalised object finding them
out,– instance Rt. – seems a little later on the line
of plotting and attacking objects with internal
weapons, or making them fight each other,which would
go along with the earlier anal-sadistic stage.
Instance S. seems more connected with disconnecting
things inside him, separating the objects, connecting
more with the second anal-sadistic stage.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II). 4. 2.
Here the idea would be to get away , to disso-
ciate oneself from certain thoughts equated to
faeces , attributed to the objects as their pro-
ductions. Along with this the necessity to keep
the good objects apart from the bad objects and their
This mechanism would be a later one than mechanism
I as it is connected
Instance: -Rt.T. had read my book and deeply im-
pressed that I lead certain fundamental things fur-
ther. This implies to him that I will be more able
to cure him than anybody else. DrG. and DrI. appear
in associations. Those associations came to the
following dream: - Prof. L. / analyses him in front of
students (suspicions about me that might give him
away), but actually says – would not mind if I would
use material). (see p. 4a).-
as the better diagnosticians, while I am compared
with the physician from whom I know from former
associations that he does not think very highly of
him, just as of somebody who can neatly or correctly
carry out an operation, like he is careful about his
appearance, but not really good in diagnosis and
Page 4a was subsequently renumbered 2a, which follows on in my reconstruction.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II) 4a. 2a
In dream patient says repeatedly, like a child
asking for his doll:- I want my lost object
(laughs when telling this) - . Had recently
read Abraham and Freud about Melancholia, but ob-
viously ironical about it. Associations:-
doll has got sawdust instead of blood inside, is
really terrified of dead objects
not a live object Irony Then follow associations
Prof. C. – good diagnostician, the physician
Dr H.I. – bad diagnostician but neat and accurate –
standing for me. (Patient dislike Dr.H.I. thoroughly,
He always puts himself in the foreground, his import-
ance, and so on.– This alludes to the fact
that patient recently discovered in his analysis
that I go further in analysis of melancholia than
Freud and Abrahm. Here too the patient is amazed
to find that while he admires this and is grateful
for it, heat the same time in other layer of his
mind belittles me, is sarcastic and so on.
This page referring to the dream of Rt on page 2, was clearly written later. However, even though the text at the bottom of page 2 continues on page 3, page 2a’s proper significance is clearly between them,
Early Repression Mechanism (Cont.II) 5. 3.
who was repeatedly blamed by his seniors and not very
well judged by his students. Following associations
show that he actually thinks that G. and I. did not
realise at all his illness, while I am quite right
whith what he feels to be my diagnosis. He is amazed
to find that he actually,with one part of his mind,
compared me with the unimportant physician who cannot
diagnose well, and the other two men with good diag-
nosticians, while he knew that he has a triumphant
feeling of having misled them. He says he must have
thought so, but he cannot understand how he could,
because he has just recently felt that I am the only
one to help him. His associations show that in
belittling me he follows the little man inside him
in his early history – the father – who made mother
bad through making her pregnant. Here associations
about bloody sanitary towels and mother being injured
and dirty. But there seems some triumph that he sees
through and knows much better than father that the
good mother would be helpful and better than father.
He must not let father – the little man inside him –
Early Repression Mechanism (Cont.II) 6.
know that he believes in mother helping him and keeping
mother for himself because father, brother and sisters
would get jealous and would want to take her away from
him. Here number of people – Dr K., his brother,
his wife, etc., whom he feels guilty about that they
The first ten lines on this page was torn from another page and stuck onto this one, with the lower text added below.
don’t get analysed by me. His astonishment is based
on the fact that here one part of his mind is deceiving
the other one. In order to keep certain thoughts
hidden away, or even quite changed for this purpose,
in order to let the bad internal object not know.
When I suggested to him this concealing and deceiving
way is going on in his own mind, (from all the material
just described), how he has to keep apart thoughts and
objects, he, while listening to me – thinks of an
article he read:– A trainer who managed to have in
one cage lions and tigers. Most dangerous. Onelion
bit a tigress in the throat,- she died. One young lion
was made not to feel superior, was made meek, by his
brothers being put into the same cage, who, when he
started fighting, illtreated and wounded him thoroughly.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II) 7.
Next association – a patient he saw in an asylum who
saw himself surrounded by lions. Psychologist I., who
lectured to the students, explained that this man saw
the day before a picture of a lion in a newspaper and
feels they are real. Patient laughs about the silly
interpretation. Patient interprets that he feels
identified with the mad person with the lions and
that the lion cage and the whole story about the
trainer he thought of while I was interpreting the ways
of his mind – represents his inside with lions and
tigers as objects and difficulty to keep them / apart.
I interpret: - His triumph that psychologist I. –
standing for me – does not understand about psychosis.
This alludes to my diagnosis I gave him some time ago
(when pressed forit by him, I said that he is not
psychotic, has, it is true, melancholic and paranoid
trends but enough normality and capacity of co-operation
to be cured.) (His deepest anxiety since childhood
is to go mad). Patient was/reassured, but not very
much. Now these associations about psychologist I.
show that he thinks I do not understand his psychosis.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont. II). 8.
Now the triumph is that he knows he is psychotic, and
I don’t:- Patient is amazed to find that this
could be a triumph. Interpretation:- psychosis
stands for the lions and tigers inside him. The triumph
is based on denial of psychic realities – they can kill
each other inside him – he does not mind, - proves that
he is better than little man inside him, leaves respon-
for all destructions
sibility to him.
as a child
Association:- remembers that at zoo/sexually very
excited when lions fought each other in cage. Memory
regular masturbation phantasie
/of Mrs. B. fighting on top his other with her. This
her sexual relation
was another phantasy of sexual excitement. This leads
to the sexual thrill at cinema ( age between 8 & 10)
when love stories were on, dangers, where people on
screen seemed to him quite real. The thrill of the
harm which could happen in love stories – lion cage
and so on – is the tension of the danger happening
to parents in intercourse. Sadistic phantasies and
anxiety connected with them. Those dangerous fighting
animals – parents in intercourse inside him, at the
same time his madnessand psychosis.
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II). 9. 7.
I suggest that these phantasies still cause the dis-
that he is phantasying intercourse
turbance in sexuality. He agrees that it is / still
quite on the line of masturbation phantasies, forgetting
After week-end report:had been with people he got to
know at wife’s friends’ house. Amazed about the change
in his attitude . Usually most critical and dogmatic,
inclined to argue with other people’s views. Different
things didn’t like/, but did not mind them; not inclined
to discussion; compares it with one week ago when deeply
depressed after an afternoon which passed with an
American doctor whom he thoroughly disliked, argued
with him. Association showed that he disliked this
man so much because of different things reminding him
of his father and ways which patient thoroughly fights
in himself. - Yesterdayq entirely different atti-
tude. Patient says the first time he remembers having
been at ease and really enjoyed new people’s company.
Asks how this is connected with material? – I suggest
that his bad relation with his father, which led to
Early Repression Mechanism (cont. II). 10 8.
arguing in a dogmatic way, while he hated those
dogmatic ways very much ( hate against father and
identified with him against his will) became inter-
nalised. Could have got rid of the external father,
but not of little man inside him, and this whole strain
of coping with internal objects,in conceiving thoughts
(material of the last few pages).- Analysis of
this material makes better relation with external
objects possible. While patient listens has the
following association. – Last night talked about
Gen.Goering, somebody suggested that he takes drugs.
Pat. doubted it,- might have tendencies to do so.-
I interpret:- that Gen. Goering came up when I inter-
preted about difficulties to get on with internal little
man. Little man defends against big and dangerous
man – Goering. That is why all the time took little
notice of the whole Nazi business, denied danger, and
denied yesterday that he takes drugs – is mad.
Pat.: he called Goering a rat, in connection with
Dimitroff. The way D. was shouted down in court re-
minded him of himself as a little boy shouted down by
father. Felt quite identified with D. Awful to think
Early Repression Mechanism (cont.II). 11.
that now they might keep him so long, and probably
dope him, so that he is broken down when they let him
go.– I interpret:- his denial Goering dopes
himself connected with his anxiety D. – himself –
being doped by internalised Goering. Then Pat.:
would be the prisoner of Goering inside him as de-
pendent/and delivered out to what the internal object
does. His irony against people like Dr.J.,DrG., etc.
defence against deeper anxiety of lions, tigers and
Goerings.- Pat. remarks:- Bernard Shaw very
ironical but obviously gets pleasure out of his sadism.
– When I agreed to the primary irony in sadiasm Pat.
objects to my pronunciation of sadism. I interpret:-
that this objections comes after I have shown so
frightening things in his inside I became frightening
internal object myself and fight about and with words
stands for other, more dangerous fights.
Illuminating material for co-relation between ex-
ternal and internal object.
Material for paranoic anxiety and defences on
deceiving and plotting lines.