Melanie Klein, Early Analysis, and the Question of Freedom – public lecture by Deborah Britzman

– I am deeply, deeply honored
to introduce the imminent educational theorist and
psychoanalyst, Deborah Britzman, whose work has profoundly
influenced me over the past 20 years in my capacity
as researcher, teacher, and administrator. In that latest role, it has
been illuminating and sobering exercise to read Britzman’s article on the fragility of peace, which many of you read for
the seminar this morning. Ahead of conversations
that have been happening here at McMaster as they’re
happening across Canada on the role that universities will play in the advancing, in advancing the truth and reconciliations
commissions calls to action. And in light of universities
in North America and Europe having to respond in the
immediacy of the moment to the Syrian Refugee crisis, spurred by a region rocked
by decades of warfare. These are just two examples, historic and contemporary tragedies in which educational institutions have surely played their role. A recognition and a reckoning that needs to inform meaningful response. Like the French theorist Michel Foucalt, Britzman has long recognized the fallacy of the very heart of the
western organization of thought. The idea, as he put it, that quote, knowledge and truth can never not belong to the register of order and peace, that knowledge and
truth can never be found on the side of violence,
disorder, and war. Or as Britzman herself states with an analyst
characteristic incisiveness of the possible arrangement of quote, psychosocial life capable
of unspeakable involvement in educational enterprise
dedicated to genocide. Britzman describes the particular crisis universities now face in
terms of what she calls the very thought of education and the affect of dimensions of education, which determined when the confrontation with a harsh or unyielding
reality ushers in either the need to think or in fact it destroys thinking itself. For her evidence of the
waning status of universities and of teachers in them
and outside of them in public schools is
linked to what she calls the decline of enlightenment
as a metaphor for education which has resulted from
intense accelerated and revolutionary
transformations associated with post industrial
post modern societies. With her capacity for
identifying human contradiction and paradox, Britzman
focuses our attention on what she calls the horror of learning, for both teachers and students. It is one of the tragedies
of our time she suggests that our conception of education
has been so scaled back, so denigrated and demoted
to children’s activity, as if adults are no longer themselves to burdened with how to live
in the world with others. And so the task of learning anew returns us anew to the pain and anxiety we recall with regard to our
own intellectual development within educations institutions. She recalls these with us evincing the terrifying encounter with the unknown and the obscure, the indignities of being disciplined, disgrace of occasional failure, the myriad of disappointments and narcissistic injuries. In conditions marked by post modernity, the horror of learning
is effectively suppressed by she writes, skills supplanting ideas, technique is confused with
authority and responsibility, and know how short circuits
the existential questions of indeterminacy and
incompleteness, unquote. Such are the fruits of what
Bill Readings might have called neoliberalism’s university of innovation, for what Deborah says is the high speed student turned consumer. And substituting training
for higher learning the university performs
what Britzman calls the collapse of its pedagogical theme. It remains as a ruin
marking the place where our critical function of
education has become obsolete. The seduction of certainty and times of acute vulnerability and dependence proves too great to refuse. As a result, the default position of too many in the
academy is to close ranks and resist change at any level. And then refusing the
uncertainty of new knowledge or the very conditions
that produce new knowledge and new relations, we
refuse in Britzman’s terms, quote, the emotional
acceptance of our ignorance because we cannot really
know what will happen with new knowledge. That even new knowledge does not exhaust what is unknowable and that
we act from not understanding. This is the lesson of Arendt and Adorno who in their reflections on mid
century European catastrophe understood too well what happens when humans by their own actions destroy the capacity to think
and therefore act humanely. One of the many challenges of our time will be learning how to learn again, and to employ the public use of reason in the interests of
composing counter conceptions of current social arrangements, conditions of possibility
and impossibility. And that requires learning
how to embrace doubt and how to take responsibility for the unknown outcomes of what we do. Rather than exchange this
intolerable vulnerability for the forms of instrumental rationality and the terrible destruction
they inevitably unleash one on hand, or for forms of intellectual paralysis on the other. Given human injustice and equality suffered just beyond its walls. The university on its
resident intellectuals, teachers and students among them, need to reclaim the public
character and commitment of the institution to public life. Britzman’s body of work compels faculty administrators
and students collectively to assume the awesome responsibility to think for the mutual
benefit of their own humanity and the lives and dignity of others. Deborah Britzman is distinguished research professor at York
University in Toronto, fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and practicing psychoanalyst. Internationally known for her research in education in psychoanalysis, Britzman is the author of eight books and over 90 articles. Her two recent books, A
Psychoanalyst in the Classroom: Education as Human Condition and Melanie Klein: Early Analysis, Play, and the Question of
Freedom is forthcoming. Britzman is the 2015 recipient of the Hans Leowald Memorial Award for the International Forum
for Psychoanalytic Education. So let me and all of us
welcome her to the podium. – I want to thank professor Jeru and say hello, I’m really happy to be here and I wanna thank you for
this wonderful invitation. Today I’ll be working from the Klein book and the topic that, it’s
probably an optimistic topic that I’m giving you today, and it’s on the topic of
psychoanalytic friendship, and narratives of a
psychoanalytic situation and the friendship of Mrs. K,
is how she referred to herself in her book about this case study. It’s one of the most extensive cases that we have in child analysis and richer. That’s the book that I’m working with and now we’ll move to the third slide. So the section, so the span of the paper is from 1941 to 1989. I’ll give you a little
bit of an introduction, we’ll call it Nachträglichkeit or some sort of deferred action. The next section we’ll go is a quote, go right to the depth. The third section, do you
really know what I think, how can you know? This is the 24th session with
Richard and Melanie Klein. Then do psychoanalysts go to church? That’s the 50 second session. And then, must we say goodbye
on the sadness of parting. And then a little postscript on Richard, Mrs. Klein, and Mahler. Just at the beginning of the start of the Freud client controversies in the midst of World War 2, Mrs. Klein then 59 years old conducted a four month analysis with Richard, a 10 year old English boy. From the beginning Richard knew they would only have four months together and that Mrs. Klein would
have to end the analysis. Perhaps such knowledge
confirmed his suspicions and there were many. Mrs. Klein’s thick German accent, the visible and invisible enemies, and the improbability of friendship. The transference was immediate. The year was 1941, particularly
difficult for them both. And in one of those strange
psychoanalytic coincidences, the analysand’s anguish
was not very far away from that of the analyst. Klein too must have been
preoccupied with enemies who were suspicious of her theories. She was in preparation for her defense to the British Psychoanalytic
controversial discussions. Her nineteen or August 29th,
1941 letter to Clifford Scott forecast heartache, and she
mentions Richard, quote, we are only at the beginning
of making people understand the importance and meaning of depression, and I’m afraid it will be a
difficult and lengthy job. I now analyze a boy of
10, it is surprising and gratifying to see how much knowledge of the depressive position
has advanced technique and theoretical practical understanding. I am afraid however that
most of our colleagues are extremely reluctant to
accept these new things. This may retard progress but should not altogether hold it up. Nineteen years later around the age of 76, Klein returned to her boxes of notes on an analysis cut short, and
wrote her most effecting study Narrative of a Child Analysis: The Conduct of Psychoanalysis of Children as seen through the Treatment
of a 10 Year Old Boy. It was published posthumously
in 1961, it runs 496 pages. She continued to justify
her psychoanalytic technique with extensive footnotes,
many of which anticipated long standing contentions over her style of deep interpretation. By then Klein had redefined the designs of psychoanalytic concepts, such as projective identification, the paranoid schizoid
in depressive position, envy and gratitude, the total
situation of the transference, the centrality of fantasy
to early anxiety situations, and the infantile roots of the adult mind. She continued to maintain
that early analysis of young children was the
royal road to knowledge in adult psychoanalysis. My discussion of Klein’s
late work attends to the fate or perhaps the vicissitudes
of the good object with the provocative claim that the heart of the
psychoanalytic situation proposes to the analyst and the analysand a question of friendship. Such friendship is unlike any other. As appeal to fleeting scenes
of appearance, disappearance in the art of compromise,
psychoanalytic friendship must bow to its own incompleteness. Now while the field of psychoanalysis contains significant
commentary and dispute over the analytic couple,
the analytic relation, endings and beginnings, free association, and the significance of transference love. While Freud suggested
that the analytic alliance is dedicated to the
destruction of the symptom, and while the analyst ethic of neutrality may serve as a warning to
her unavoidable transference, what today is discussed is the
analyst’s self disclosures. The hovering question of
friendship is hardly discussed. With Klein, the question
of friendship belongs to the fate of the good object. Her emphasis on the inner
world of object relations as friendly and unfriendly,
and as good and bad, opens new awareness for why
the desire for friendship is so significant to the
life world of the mind, and the moral capacity for symbolizing the depressive position that keeps watch over feelings of loneliness, sadness, and gratitude and thoughts of the other. I also wish to place into the folds of psychoanalytic friendship the desire to write about our work, the style of listening
made when we receive the words of others, and
then to attempt to sustain the desire for the human bond when there seems to be no friend. Derrida’s Politics of Friendship, published in American Imago, proffers a meditation on friendship as “thoughts of the other,” “as something yet to come,” and as “an experience in waiting.” Such is the psychoanalytic situation. Before, during, and after
the psychoanalytic situation friendship may flourish from and founder over anxiety
over the loss of love. As potential the friendship yet to come faces the psychical difficulties of wanted, wishing, and waiting for an actual other who also suffers, yet still invests in a work of fantasy, the unconscious,
imagination, interpretation, and the urge for reparation. What then does this
psychoanalytic friendship propose? Simply the trace of transference proposes an exchange of
moral quandaries, anxiety, and desire given over to the other. For Klein and Richard,
their question of friendship is tied to the promise of the good object, as well as thoughts as to
how easily it slips away. Klein’s last book differed
in three extraordinary ways from her 1932 study, The
Psychoanalysis of Children, where she could only
present early analysis through rapid brush strokes
and grand theoretical leaps. First, the narrative unfolds
with literary devices such as first and third person voice foreshadowing, defense,
dialogue, personification, retroaction, and the
illusion of first time. Foot notes serve as her
conservative decorous, while her index proposes the
radical mashup of fantasies. Their apprenticeship in transference lit the flame for client’s
narrative liberties. There follows a second difference. Readers experience their strange volley of discordant words spoken to each other, their misunderstandings, and the confusion of
unaccountable anxiety. The writing and reading of the case is itself an emotional situation. Klein hardly comments
on the third difference. The narrative responded to one of the most difficult criticisms leveled
at psychoanalysis generally, and Klein quite specifically. Many argue that her
psychoanalytic theories and of object relations cares nothing for the force of the external world. Richard’s analysis proved otherwise. It occurred within an
extraordinarily urgent context, the frightening world at war. Bombings, terrible
suffering, displacement, destruction, death, and what
seemed like endless waiting. In her introduction to
the work Klein notes that for the purposes of analysis,
and due to the London blitz, Richard and his mother
stayed during weekends in a hotel in a Welsch village. He took the bus to Klein’s
rented playroom there, five to six days a week, for
their 50 minute sessions, and then on most weekends when they could, they returned to their London homes. They met for 93 sessions. Klein begins with a key
themes enacted in his play, quote, the outbreak of the war had greatly increased Richard’s
difficulties, the war stirred up all his anxieties, and he
was particularly frightened of air raids and bombs. He followed the news closely and took a great interest in the changes in the war situation,
and this preoccupation came up again and again during
the course of his analysis. The only war subject to
symbolization however belonged to the psychoanalytic situation. Mrs. Klein was instructed
by Richard striving to understand his own mind, and even as she accepted the fact that her theory tags along, to learn more, she had to break the rules of
her own analytic compartment. Two rules were broken. She answered Richard’s questions and at times reassured him. Giving her technique of needing to respond to what she called
quote, intangible factors and the most urgent aspects
of the material, unquote, Klein’s counter
transference was inevitable. As the analysis proceeded, Richard begged for the work to continue. Even as Klein knew this was not to be, she gave him a faint hope. Perhaps she too held the
fate of the good object, or even to become that good
object for Richard’s youth. In session 65, Richard’s
anger towards Mrs. Klein came in the form of a
monstrous portrait of her. Drawing 55 is titled Mrs. K. She has a triangle body with glaring eyes, gigantic breasts, a V on the stomach, hair on the head, and
a line to the genitals, perhaps added as an afterthought. Then Richard, quote, picked
up the drawing suddenly and put his lips to one breast, unquote. It is the only picture he
would be embarrassed over and one of the few times Mrs. Klein would try to appease his worries. Appeasement is the key term and in a note on this
session Klein expressed what bothered her, quote,
I have repeatedly remarked that in spite of not
deviating from my technique, I sometimes answered
questions which had the effect of reassuring Richard, which on the whole I depreciate, unquote. She then presents the dilemma. While Richard seemed
relieved, his association said otherwise, and his doubts
over Mrs. Klein’s goodness was now displaced onto another scene. Klein writes, quote, his very next remark referred to a girl on the
road, who though quite harmless in appearance, looked
to him like a monster. Idealization of the analyst, the patriotic and not foreign and suspect Mrs. Klein had not resolved the doubts in her, but this doubt was
deflected and transferred to the girl passing by. We can find again and again
that mistakes of this kind are unconsciously and with
adult sometimes consciously resented and criticized. And it is true in spite
of patients longing to be loved and reassured. The next session, section is
called go right to the depths. Donald Meltzer’s lectures on the narrative begin of the heart of client’s technique. Quote, the first week of the analysis opens like a Chekhov play. Immediately all of the
characters are introduced and all the themes and
subplots are hinted at. What can be seen happening
in the first week is that intentionally or
not, Mrs. Klein set about mobilizing anxieties rather
than diminishing them. And the technique she employed for mobilizing Richard’s anxieties is really no different from
the one of diminishing them. That is, go right to the depths, unquote. Yet the depths of anxiety are murky. Love and hate, conflicted
feelings of loneliness, envy, gratitude and jealousy, persecutory fantasies of
destruction and being destroyed, audible conflicts, and a
consolation of defenses that queue the denial
of psychical reality. But Klein presents
Richard as an articulate intellectually gifted and charming boy. At times, he deploys his
talents to manipulate others. He is both excessively
polite and terribly worried. Richard becomes lost in
his circuitous reasoning and then to bouts of paranoia, depression, and spectacular sadness. He is at war with his useless feelings. Around 1939, due to his
fear of other children and his anger at being without friends, at the age of eight he
stopped going to school and his mother took over his education. His mother reported to Klein that Richard was anxious,
overly affectionate, and worried about their separation. Then too, there were
Richard’s paranoid fears of being poisoned by the cook, of being watched by strangers, and his compulsion to be on guard. Whenever Mrs. Klein and
Richard went outside he required her to whisper. Everything was dangerous. The playroom too became a character world. It had a kitchen and lavatory and Klein provided small
toys, paper, pens, chalk, and a little table with two chairs. Klein would take his paintings home and then return them the next day. Occasionally Richard
would bring his own fleet of toy soldiers and war ships. Leaving toys at home meant
a loss of trust in Klein. The rented playroom was
used for other purposes and for each session Klein
had to open the outside door. Much of the time Richard arrived early and stood outside waiting for her. When the sessions ended,
no matter how difficult, they walked away together. Richard would have the last words while Mrs. Klein kept
her thoughts to herself. Interpretation of Richard’s anxieties only occurred during the session. At their first meeting,
Klein asked Richard if he knew why he was seeing her. He said he had some difficulties and wanted to be helped, and then he filled the
room with his worries about Hitler’s cruelty and
about whether Mrs. Klein, like Hitler was Austrian. He worried about boys in
tramps who might hurt him. He worried he would be
overheard by enemies. He was concerned over his mother’s health and whether she would be kidnapped. And then something must have
piqued Mrs. Klein’s listening. Richard worried what he
was like on the inside, and what other people’s insides were like. Through the character’s
of his mother, father, Mrs. K, Mr. K, the cook, terrible Hitler, and genitals and breasts, the first session belonged
to persecutory objects. Everything stood in for something else. Mrs. Klein Richard’s transference to her began as soon as he stepped into the room and immediately she gave
deep interpretations to his anxiety, explaining
that his worries brought him to terrifying thoughts on parental coitus, father’s violence, mother’s helplessness, and Richard’s guilt at wanting to have his
mother all to himself. So much was happening and in a footnote on that first session written years later, Klein tips her hat to the chaos as well as the liberties of narration, quote, but often I did
not or could not record the fleeting effect the
interpretations made on him. The child would seldom
have been sitting silently while I was speaking. He might get up, pick up
a toy or a pencil or pad, he might introject something which was a further association or a doubt. Therefore, my interpretations
may frequently appear more lengthy and consecutive
than in fact they were. By the fortieth session
and after a holiday where both Klein and
Richard returned to London and its air raids, Richard’s
anxiety was palpable as was his resistance to the world. Their separation had
turned everything bad. Mrs. Klein described
him that day as quote, a picture of unhappiness. He had difficulty
settling, he ran outside, stamped on poisonous weeds, and finally pulled from
a shelf a book to read. His restlessness matched
Klein’s interpretation of that session and it
reads as brutal, quote. Mrs. Klein interpreted that
his silences and his reading expressed his wish to
escape from his fears about the poisonous and
dangerous father genital and the dead babies inside mommy. The toadstools and the medals which he crushed under his feet. The playroom, the garden, and Mrs. K had turned bad, and poisoned his mind. He wished to find out
about Mrs. K’s inside by looking in the book. This seemed less frightening
than looking around in the playroom, unquote. And yet, after that session,
Mrs. Klein and Richard walked side by side into the world. Klein made a long note
on Richard’s capacity to sustain a double attitude
of both anxiety and hope. As if concerned about
the readers of the case, Klein turned to her
technique of addressing the urgency of anxiety situations. Quote, it seems striking
that interpretations which are most painful, such as those of destructive impulses
directed against a loved object, or even as will be seen in later sessions, of anxieties relating to internal dangers and persecution by dead
and hostile objects can yet lead to great relief. I discovered that progress and analysis was bound up with interpreting whatever anxieties were most acute. Whether they were of a psychotic
nature or not, unquote. Session 24, on a Saturday,
do you know what I think, how can you really know? These are Richard’s words. Mrs. Klein’s interpretation
called upon Richard’s anxiety and his doubts over their work. At a certain point his doubts appeared as anxieties punctuation. However doubts may also function as a challenge to internal and
external scenes of authority. Until Richard could question his thoughts, affect remains split off
from their symbolization. The capacity for doubt, as
the analyst Marion Milner described in the 1942 lecture given to the Institute
of Education in London, begins with an awareness of the relation between inner and outer reality with the idea that quote, Miller says, thoughts are different than things. The child as well as the adult has to learn to doubt magical
beliefs and disillusion. Not only the illusion of what
feels like absolute knowledge, external authority such as the school must also be rendered as human and as capable of being questioned. In a psychoanalytic situation
doubts serve another purpose. The analyst is not omnipotent, only a participant with congealed feelings that chime in with the insistence that drifting thoughts release
an overabundance of feelings. So one of the large issues
that became the work is how and why the analyst disillusions her seeming omnipotence
or breaks open the fantasy that minds can be read and controlled. Technique itself cannot be omnipotent, there must be an eye towards freedom as well an address to the paranoid anxiety that stops it short. Indeed the other cannot know too well and uncertainty over meaning is as much an operation of language as
it is a quality of affect. The doubts begin with the question, is it really true or how can you know? Miller’s open questions turns feelings, turns to feelings
terminable and interminable, this is Milner, quote, how
far does it help the child to realize the inner reality as process, if this recognition does
in fact require the ability to tolerate doubt, and a willingness to weigh an uncertainty, unquote. From Klein’s view, thinking
itself would become a container for mental pain, a waiting mechanism and an avenue to narrative. Their 24th session occurs on a Saturday when Richard begins with his doubts and what they can mean for Klein. He’s drawing a picture, one
of the star fish series, where each arm represents
a mommy, bad daddy, Mrs. K, brute Hitler, and the empire. As he colors in the arms he
is singing marching songs. Richard is worried about the invasion, whether Mrs. K would
still be able to see him. The drawing was one of
attack and destruction and Richard did not believe he harbored bad feelings toward his parents. He stopped and asked Mrs. K, do I really think of this, do
I really think all of this? I don’t know if I do, how can
you really know what I think? Unquote. How anyone can know anything
expresses a feeling, Mrs. K in third person
voice then acknowledged his relations to his doubts, quote, from his fantasy drawings and
what he was saying and doing, she gathered some of his
unconscious thoughts, but he had just expressed his doubts about whether she was right
and could be trusted, unquote. Klein related these feelings of mistrust to his worries about his mother and also that Mrs. K would
give Richard to Mr. K whom he thought was the enemy. Recently, Klein added as an aside, quote, he had unconsciously
expressed death wishes towards mommy and Mrs. K,
and found it very painful and frightening when
Mrs. K interpreted this. It seemed that he had
experienced both trust and distrust more strongly, unquote. It is Richard’s double
attitude that Klein held close when Richard demanded, quote, was Mrs. Klein a foreigner or not? Unquote. Just as they were ready to take a break for the weekend, Richard
seemed more relaxed. Klein noted Richard’s affection. Quote, turning off the
electric fire he said, poor old radiator will
have a rest, unquote. Richard wanted to make sure Mrs. K would bring his drawings back next time. Then looking over the room, he said, quote, poor old room, so silent. Then he asked Mrs. K
what she was going to do over the weekend, unquote. Klein’s last interpretation
drew the personification of the room into a personal
narrative of reparation. Quote, Mrs. Klein interpreted his fear that she might die at the weekend, the poor old silent room. That was why he had to make sure about bringing the drawings. This also expressed his
wish to help in the analysis and thus put Mrs. K
right and preserve her. This was why he wished for Mrs. K, the poor old radiator, to have a rest and not to be exhausted by her patience, particularly by him. Unquote. Klein’s note on this session
attended to the mechanisms of denial as a way of
dealing with anxiety. Quote, in this instance the
internal danger situation consisted of the good
mother being attacked and destroyed by his hatred and gave rise to depression and despair. Unquote. As Richard’s anxiety diminished, he could face the external world as more than a delegate
to his hostile feelings. The next session, Sunday, 52nd session. Do psychoanalysts go to church? This was Richard’s question. Mrs. K and Richard met
for a Sunday session. Richard is most curious
about what Mrs. Klein does when she is not with him. The session turns to Richard wondering about Klein’s belief in God and country. Then, while drawing a German airplane on the ground hit by lightning, asked if he could raise
something personal. Quote, did she go to church? Do psychoanalysts go to church? And at once, even before
Mrs. K could’ve replied, he said, that she could not
go because she was too busy. Unquote. Mrs. Klein opened his question
through what he did not ask. Did Richard think it was
wrong not to go to church? Then, quote, Mrs. K asked if he was afraid of punishment by God, unquote. Richard changed the topic by announcing that he wished to give a performance with a rope that he swung between his legs and told Mrs. Klein to be the audience and clapped enthusiastically. The play became manic and then Richard asked Mrs. K to perform with the rope. She too swung it around. Quote, Mrs. K then interpreted that when Richard held the
rope between his legs it represented daddy’s genital which Richard has taken
away and now possessed. Mrs. K performing with the rope meant that mommy too should
have a powerful penis which would make them all equal. The rope play, both
Richard’s and Mrs. K’s, expressed his wish to have
sexual intercourse with her, at the same time, that
this was a wish he had been so afraid of, and for
which he felt that God, standing for daddy, would punish him. Unquote. Richard kept returning to his drawing of the downed plane, the blackening sky. He then walked around the room aimlessly and Mrs. K told him, he wished to escape from his bad thoughts. This last turn was to his urgent dilemma. Richard felt that was wrong
that they met on Sunday. Moreover he had severe
doubts about psychoanalysis and felt it too was wrong. The sexual talk was improper, though Richard did have a dangerous wish to have sex with mommy. But it was improper of Mrs.
K to speak of such desires as they were tempting him. It is worth quoting the range
of emotional experiences involved in such a quick exchange. Quote, this is Klein. These desires seemed all
the more dangerous to him because they were connected
with hate, jealousy, and destruction of his
parents whom he loved. He had always been struggling to get away from such hostile feelings,
which he felt were bad. And wished only to experience love. But Mrs. K, when he was
afraid of her tempting him, represented mommy as
well, who was tempting him by allowing him to sleep
in a room alone with her. He also suspected her,
whenever she showed him love, of being disloyal to
daddy, and of encouraging Richard’s bad and hostile desires. He felt Mrs. K should not had given him this session on Sunday. That she and he should
have gone to church. At the same time, he did want Mrs. K to give him an additional session. Unquote. It’s at this point that Richard told Klein that he felt the analysis was helpful. What changed his judgement? In Klein’s view, putting into words the distorter of painful clashing feelings provided Richard with a means to symbolize the anxiety and ambivalence. When bad things can be put into words the authority of fantasies diminish. The analytic dialogue
was now deep in the heart of Richard’s worries, though
when they walk out together into the world, Richard
turned back to the playroom and said, it was good for
the playroom to have a rest. Here we can summarize
Klein’s play technique. She listens to the child’s
disparate utterances and sees in his drawings
depressive pain and his hopes. She observes Richard’s walkabouts
as eruptions of anxiety promoting the defense
of denial of any meaning unconscious communication holds in store. And she works from inside
Richard’s questions. Technically Klein’s
interpretations are meant to call for both anxiety and new ideas. Richard’s activities,
drawings, doubts, questions and refusals become an index
of his emotional attitude toward his inner world,
his transference to Klein, and what he cannot bear to
imagine about the outer world. Paradoxically, the mechanisms of defense, omnipotence, identification, and splitting carry the means to know them. Klein is then proposing a new kind of psychological knowledge
capable of containing inchoate elements of the emotional world and the moral quandaries involved. Then too, the unconscious communication Klein conveyed between the
lines of interpretation belonged to their friendship. But the analyst must be
willing to be a magnet for love and hate,
become the poor radiator, the sad, silent empty room, and then the playroom that needs a rest. The next session, must we say goodbye? The sadness or parting. The last sessions were those of parting as much as they were an
inquiry into the sways of security and insecurity. Klein felt that Richard’s manifest wish was to end his analysis in a friendly way. There were however new pains. Headaches, tummy aches, and demands that Mrs. K leave her other patients and work only with him. His distrust of Klein
resurfaced in the form of doubts over here and his goodness. Richard is manically drawing pictures and tearing them up. In session 75, Richard asks Mrs. Klein, could she cure dopey boys? He also wanted to know when
she became a psychoanalyst. Was it before or after she married Mr. K? Was Mrs. K loyal to the German enemy? Then he asked whether
Mrs. K really did not mind his referring to her nationality. Has Richard’s questions
hurt Mrs. K’s feelings? In there 83rd session, his
feelings of persecution and resent returned and Klein’s note acknowledges Richard’s loss. And he gave me the feeling
that he had regressed to the attempts of young children who are unable to draw a complete figure for complex reasons,
such as lack of skill, lack of integration, and
feelings of guilt about having torn to bits the mother’s
breast and the mother. The regression to
earlier tacts of tearing, biting up, and the corresponding
persecutory anxieties were therefore used in order to get away from depression and despair. I have pointed out, Klein continues, generally speaking that
the incapacity to cope with the depressive position
often leads to a regression to the earlier paranoid schizoid one. Unquote. The dopey boy question
returned in session 92 when he asked whether Mrs. K was quote, a doctor for the mind as other
doctors are for the body. Then, quote, Richard said that the mind was even more important than the body, though he thought that the
nose was very important too. Klein’s interpretation
returned to his worries over the insides of his body, and whether Mrs. K could
be a helpful figure. Quote. The nose that also stood
for Richard’s genital and that he was afraid that
something was wrong with it, that it was damaged and
would not develop properly. And this was the reason why he was afraid of becoming a dunce. He doubted whether Mrs. K could actually cure the genital, as well
as the mind, unquote. Everything stands for something else and threatens to collapse meaning. Bad objects threaten to destroy good ones. Richard seems to be asking what can Klein really do for him. And in their last three sessions, the large question of whether
in the sorrow of parting everything good would disappear forever. In their last session, Richard
wished to caress, kiss, and hold Mrs. K, and
agreed that touching her was his way to keep her inside him. He was afraid he could not keep her, but had hopes that he could. Klein’s last comment concernes Richard worries of parting and his wish to preserve the good object. Quote, Richard’s mood during this was much like the that of the 90th session with much unhappiness and tension. His increased desire to be cuddled showed repeatedly in his touching Mrs. K, and he dropped things so as to be able to touch her legs, when picking them up. He was obviously all the
time trying to restrain his aggressiveness, because
of the fear of injuring his loved objects, unquote. It seems all along that
Richard was desperate to keep in mind good objects. And deeply worried that just as the world was being ruined by war,
he too would destroy his capacity for love and friendship. But now there were at least two Mrs. K’s, his psychoanalyst he wished to kiss, who played with him and
accompanied his troubles, and because of their
work he was determined to keep her alive, and the internal Mrs. K who witnessed the comings and goings of the emotional world. Klein considers then the
fate of the good object and the glimmers of
the depressive position there all along, quote,
the growing predominance of the life instinct and the fusion between the two instincts, and the ensuing mitigation of hate by love
were the ultimate reason why he could remain hopeful, in spite of the very painful experience of breaking off an analysis
which he consciously and unconsciously knew
to be essential to him. Unquote. Klein insisted that only
by addressing anxiety, calling it forth and
giving affects a story of embodiment to aid the
freedom of dispersal. Would the child invest in
the life world of the mind needed to create emotional bonds. But we also learn that children too, not only create the analyst they can bare, but are also analysts in the making. Such an important tie to
the transference dialogue affects both the course of psychoanalysis and Klein’s working style. In contemporary terms, Chris Davis figure of the inexpressible child
caught between biology and meaning, provides a fine description of the child and analyst at work. Quote, this is Chris Davis. The therapist task is two fold. First, the therapist must be
an analyst who fosters desire, including of course the desire to speak, despite inhibition and depression. Second, the therapist
must be a speech therapist who maps out individual
program for each child since theoretical givens
do not apply to everyone. And then helps those children understand the linguistic categories
that will allow them to add symbolic productions
to their subjectivity. Unquote. Klein’s principle for
affecting psychoanalysis may go something like this. Where deprivation was, there frustration, aggression, fantasy,
anxiety, defense, depression, gratitude, reparation, and
friendship shall become. Step by step and side by side, human tolerance and mental
freedom walk hand in hand. And Klein insists upon narrative
now as negative capacity as our first resource for working through the schizoid defenses and their denial of the relational infantile
roots of the emotional world. Yet we need these anxieties. So a narrative like the
desire for love and friendship as we have seen in many of their sessions is a double edged sword. The words themselves can be
mistaken for taunting objects. They may also become a symbolic
scaffold for new thoughts. Klein was well aware that her vocabulary would be shocking to her readers. At the start of an elaborate
index for the Richard case, Klein writes an unusual prefatory note. This book is written in
three distinct languages. The first, expresses the child’s material in concrete every day terms
and the symbolic meanings. The second, the chapter notes is written in the terms of an ordinary
psychoanalytic book or paper. And third, however seldom
appears in the index, and when it does, it’s
usually for the purpose of illustrating chapter notes. But how daunting it is
to index the effusions of psychical reality. See, under babies. Babies, baby, see also
children, chicks, eggs, fish, flies, sailors, salmon, par,
seed, starfish, birth of, desire for, desire to be,
desire to give mother, desire for mother to have. Desire to restore mother’s,
to restore mother, fear of children as,
greedy hostile internal, inside mother, attacked
and dead, inside mother, fear of, mixed feelings
about, shared with mother. See under babies. Only in the index do we
rush into the difficulties of distinguishing the three
registers of psychoanalysis. Affect, fantasy, and technique. And post script. Richard’s recollection of the analysis. Many people wonder what
happened to Richard. Klein reported some news
that he returned to school, though she knew there
was no way to forecast the afterwardness of endings. Richard appears briefly in another book. Phillip Groth Kurth,
a biographer of Klein, somehow found the adult
Richard, 40 years later. Groth Kurth reported on
their three meetings. In their first encounter,
Groth Kurth faced a 50 year old man, who did
not know of Klein’s study and of course did not
respond to the name Richard. But he did remember Mrs. Klein, he recollected the
toys, the analytic room, and the bus he traveled on,
his fear of other children, the kisses he wanted to give
her, and then his temper. Still active, he admitted. In the second meeting
Groth Kurth gave him a copy of Narrative of a Child Analysis. She describes Richard holding the book. He glanced at the
photograph of Melanie Klein on the back cover. Dear old Melanie he murmured. Then he suddenly put the
photograph to his lips and kissed it affectionately. It was a third meeting
after he read the narrative that Richard expressed what
his analysis felt like. Quote, the adagio from
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony more perfectly than any words I could use sums up the complete truth
of my feelings at that time. Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony was written between 1901 and 1902. He had fallen in love with Alma Schindler, with music he created
what Jens Malte Fischer described as quote, a
vocabulary that seems familiar, and sometimes even intimately colloquial, Mahler expresses all that is unheard of and uncanny, all that is
unsettling and upsetting. What sounds alien, what it
was alien sounds familiar, and what is familiar now seems alien. Unquote. The Fifth Symphony is
the vast storm we see of the soundings of a drive to reach the elusive depths of emotional life. Some musical commentators have described the opening of the symphony known as the funeral march, as hysterical. Crying horns, loud blasts, that
insists upon their hearing. It is difficult to listen
without feeling anxiety. Is that first movement an ode to the past or a foreshadowing of a future of war? The second movement too is stormy and Mahler directed it
to play with vengeance. The scared soul is a frenzied
dance that Mahler described as both giving and destroying birth. The fourth movement, the
adagio, is best known through Visconti’s film
of Thomas Mann’s Novella of the artist’s crisis with
love and art, Death in Venice. It goes right to the depths and is to be played with
excruciating slowness. Fischer describes this movement as one of love and elation. And what to do with all that
poignancy, how shall it end? The fifth movement cannot give an answer, only a compromise that
Fischer noted, quote as, a papering over of the cracks opened by the first four movements. It is if, it is as if
Mahler’s symphony understood the pain of integration is never complete. As for the psychoanalytic situation, it too plays with the
movements of vengeance, anxiety, love, and compromise, that taken together freely associate with the grand psychical
themes of friendship. Klein provides a new vocabulary that is utterly familiar and estranging. Such words may bare the weight of a multitude of object relations and open the art of compromise. Symptoms weaning, the
psychoanalytic situation, the transference, the endings, the pain of incompleteness, a measure of resignation,
and still the reparative urge for narrative, all express the flux of emotional attitudes
toward someone or some thing. Klein also teaches us that the self as everything good and bad is also a papering over of cracks. Fantasy will be our best
and most fragile threading narrating the fate of depressive
anxiety will be our lot. But so too will be the wonders of an unrepeatable friendship that can bare the question of hope for a moral psychology,
dedicated to the good object, whatever that may be. Klein’s parting gesture
would come as her last book. It would remind a fifty year old Richard of those long ago
yearnings of love and loss that returned with great
poignancy of looking back. His parting gesture in
receiving their book is to seal his friendship with a kiss. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Melanie Klein, Early Analysis, and the Question of Freedom – public lecture by Deborah Britzman

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