Key Terms and Concepts

Chapter 5 Klein: Object Relations Theory 135

Melanie Klein, the woman who developed a theory that emphasized the nurturing and loving relationship between parent and child, had neither a nurturant nor a loving relationship to her own daughter Melitta. The rift between mother and daughter began early. Melitta was the oldest of tlnee children born to parents who did not particularly like one another. When Melitta was 15, her parents separated, and Melitta blamed her mother for this separation and for the divorce that followed. As Melitta matured, her relationship with her mother became more acrimonious.

After Melitta received a medical degree, underwent a personal analysis, and presented scholarly papers to the British Psycho-Analytical Society, she was officially a member of that society, professionally equal to her mother.

Her analyst, Edward Glover, was a bitter rival of Melanie Klein. Glover, who encouraged Melitta s independence, was at least indirectly responsible for Melitta s virulent attacks on her mother. The animosity between mother and daughter became even more intense when Melitta married Walter Schmideberg, another analyst who strongly opposed Klein and who openly supported Anna Freud, Kleins most bitter rival.

Despite being a full member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, Melitta Schmideberg felt that her mother saw her as an appendage, not a colleague. In a strongly worded letter to her mother in the summer of 1934, Melitta wrote:

I hope you will . . . also allow me to give you some advice. ... I am very different from you. I already told you years ago that nothing causes a worse reaction in me than trying to force feelings into me—it is the surest way to kill all feelings. ... I am now grown up and must be independent. I have my own life, my husband (quoted in Grosskurth, 1986, p. 199).

Melitta went on to say that she would no longer relate to her mother in the neurotic maimer of her younger years. She now had a shared profession with her mother and insisted that she be treated as an equal.

The story of Melanie Klein and her daughter takes on a new perspective hi light of the emphasis that object relations theory places on the importance of the mother-child relationship.

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