Melanie Klein (photograph: Douglas Glass)

Melanie Klein: Love, Guilt, and Psychoanalysis

Instructor: Patrick Blanchfield
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Melanie Klein pushed the limits of Freudian psychoanalysis both clinically and conceptually, pioneering the analysis of young children and observing in their play a world laden with symbolic meaning that, she proposed, was as susceptible to analysis as the dream-lives of adults. Controversially turning Freud’s theory of the narcissistic, pleasure-seeking infant on its head, Klein understood the infant’s world as wracked with anxiety and rent and aggrieved in its attempt to ease this condition and to come to an understanding of itself in relation to the objects and persons comprising that world. From the chaotic, pre-verbal landscape of the infant, Klein sussed out crucial dynamics relating to embodiment, dependency, vulnerability, need, and aggression, and assembled these into a model of childhood development that also yielded a provocative new vocabulary for understanding adult behavior, pathological and otherwise. How do we live out our feelings of love, hate, loss, and the desire to forgive and heal?

In this course, an introduction to Melanie Klein’s at times polarizing thought, we will elaborate the genesis and afterlives of her key concepts, including the mother-infant dyad, the depressive and paranoid-schizoid positions, reparation, play and the practice of child analysis, object relations, projective identification, “unconscious phantasy,” and more. With four of Klein’s foundational papers as our starting point, we’ll expand our reading of Klein with supplementary texts by Hanna Segal, Betty Joseph, Jacqueline Rose, Julia Kristeva, and others. How can we understand the turbulent emotional lives of infants and children who have yet to develop a language sufficient to express their uniquely complicated inner experience? And in what sort of relation do such early experiences stand with respect to later interpersonal needs, attachments, and anxieties? How can we read Melanie Klein, as both a radical thinker in her own time and for the lasting impact her work has made within and beyond the field of psychoanalysis?

Course Schedule

Sunday, 2:00-5:00pm ET
April 14 — May 05, 2024
4 weeks


Registration Closed

Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.

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