Klein (1946) saw human infants as constantly engaging in a basic conflict between the life instinct and the death instinct, that is, between good and bad love and hate, creativity and destruction. As the ego moves toward integration and away from disintegration, infants naturally prefer gratifyhig sensations over frustrating ones.

In their attempt to deal with this dichotomy of good and bad feelings, infants organize then experiences hito positions, or ways of dealing with both internal and external objects. Klein chose the term "position" rather than "stage of development" to hidicate that positions alternate back and forth; they are not periods of time or phases of development through which a person passes. Although she used psychiatric or pathological labels, Klein intended these positions to represent normal social growth and development. The two basic positions are the paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position.

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