Melanie Klein: Psychoanalytical Views of Male, Female dynamics, involving Creativity and Imagination.


Melanie Klein,
elaborating and developing Sigmund Freud's theory in Mourning and Melancholy where he develops his conception of the relationship between dreaming and art, finds a direct connection between what she classifies as the depressive position and the artist's ability to form symbols. Symbolization is the basis of all those skills by which we relate to the world around us. Psychological understanding of the process of symbolization is integral to our understanding of the process of creativity and representation. According to Kleinian psychology our memories tell us that in childhood an illusion of a state of union exists between the child and his/her outside world. When consciousness develops in the individual a sense of the past also develops, and with it a concomitant sense of loss. In our attempt to reintegrate our sense of self with the outside world, we develop a process of substitution for the sense of loss. We can no longer relive the past, other than in memory, which itself is triggered by an association with some thing which symbolizes what is lost. (See notions of the uncanny as well.) In psychological terms a symbol "fuses" with the lost object or even the lost sense of one's self, making up what we might refer to as a shadow of oneself. As we encounter new unfamiliar objects, in our attempt to find the familiar in the unfamiliar we experience a momentary lapse in our sense of the boundaries of self. And so, just as quickly we name those familiar objects, we paint them or develop symbols for them to "understand them" we incorporate them into our own sphere, our own new expanded sense of self. Language or words become symbols for people (objects) out there. Our thirst for knowledge, our urge to know is influenced by the Oedipal situation as described by Klein. We create for ourselves our own internal sense of a phantasy world, a theatre within as it were.

Psychologically, our sense of ourselves, even our body is related to both time and space. Recently Dr. Ronald Britton has commented on the mental space of phantasy--that area which is composed of images and figures which one can never really inhabit--as the "other room." Memory holds the key to the door of this other room. Phantasy stems from an inner sense of loss or what Kleinians call the depressive position. Integration of the depressive poistion occurs when love and hate are realized as being against a singular object, not parts or different objects. The self must accept guilt about damage done to that object along with the self's feqar of losing possession of it. These feelings are acompanied by a strong desire to make reparation. Britton and Hanna Segal extend Klein's and Bion's ideas about the Oedipal situation to include a discussion of it as triangular space. I quote it here:

The acknowledgement by the child of the parents' relationship with each other unites his psychic world, limiting it to one world shared with his two parents, in which different object relationships can exist. The closure of the Oedipal triangle by the recognition of the link joing the parents provides a limiting boundary for the internal world. It creates what I call "triangular space", i.e., a space bounded by the three persons of the Oedipal situation and their potential relationships. quoted from Britton 55 The Oedipus Complex Today Britton and others.

Melanie Klein's development of Sigmund Freud's conception of a continuing state of Oedipal dynamics which exists in all relationships is helpful in explaining creativity in poetry, drama, and the visual arts. Klein's fundamental observation is that we fear more than anything else the destructive forces operating inside us against ourselves, and death represents complete disintegration, the ultimate fear. Klein's discussion of symbolization, integral to our understanding of creative process and representation and so important to theatricality, is connected to what she calls the depressive position. An illusion of unmediated union once existed between the child and his/her outside world (parents); however, when consciousness developed, an acute feeling of loss and guilt ensued. To reintegrate a sense of self with the outside world, the individual developed a pattern of substitution for this sense of loss. Substitution is phantasy and the symbol, disguised feelings or things. Klein's understanding of the operation of unconscious phantasies in children's mind paved the way for analysts to explore the internal world. Interpretation of these phantasies determine transference. Psychoanalysts see transference or projection of hostile feelings originally toward oneself the result of incestuous attraction.

Some direct quotations:

"The Theory of Intellectual Inhabition"


--In those cases in which the significance of reality and real objects as reflections of the dread internal world and images has retained its preponderance, the stimuli from the external world may be felt to be nearly as alarming as the phantasied domination of the internalized objects, which have taken possession of all intuitive and to whom the ego feels compulsively bound to surrender the execution of all activities and intellectual operations, together of course with the responsiblity for them (263)

"The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States" in Selected Melanie Klein
--. . . a suicide is directed against the introjected object. But, while in committing suicide the ego intends to murder its bad objects, in my view at the same time it also always aims at saving its loved objects, internal or external. To put it shortly: in some cases the phantasies underlying suicide aim at preserving the internalized good objects and that part of the ego which is identified with good objects, and also at destroying the other part of the ego which is identified with the bad objects and the id. Thus the ego is enabled to become united with its loved objects. In other cases, suicide seems to be determined by the same type of phantasies, but here they relate to the external world and real objects, partly as substitutes for the internalized one. As already, stated, the subject hates not only his 'bad objects, but his id as well and that vehemently. In committing suicide, his purpose may be to make a clean breach in his relation tot he outside world because he desires to rid some real object--or the 'good' object which that whole world represents and which the ego is identified with--of himself, or of that part of the ego which is identified with his bad objects and his id. (131)


"Early Stages of the Oedipus Conflict"
----One way in which the little girl's development is greatly handicapped is the following. Whilst the boy does in reality possess the penis, in respect of which he enters into rivalry with the father, the little girl has only the unsatisfied desire for motherhood, and of this, too, she has but a dim and uncertain, though a very intense, awareness.
It is not merely this uncertainlty which disturbs her hope of future motherhood. It is weakened far more by anxiety and sense of guilt, and these may seriously and permanently damage the maternal capacity of a woman. Because of the destructive tendencies once directed by her against the mother's body (or certain organs in it) and against the children in the womb, the girl anticipates retribution in the form of destruction of her own capacity for motherhood or of the organs connected with this function and of her own children. Here we have also one root of the constant concern of women for their personal beauty, for they dread that this too will be destroyed by the mother. At the bottom of the impulse to deck and beaufify themselves there is always the motive of restoring damaged comeliness, and this has its origin in anxiety and sense of guilt. It is probable that this deep dread of the destruction of internal organs may be the psychic cause of the greater susceptibility of women, as compared with men, to conversion hysteria and organic diseases. It is this anxiety and sense of guilt which is the chief cause of the repression of feelings of pride and joy in the feminine role, which are originally very strong. This repression results in depreciation of the capacity for motherhood, at the outset so highly prized. Thus the girl lacks the powerful support which the boy derives from his possession of the penis, and which she herself might find in the anticipation of motherhood. (78-79)
---The more the identification with the mother becomes stabilized on the genital basis, the more will it be characterized by the devoted kindness of an indulgent mother ideal." The deep admiration felt by the little girl for the father's genital activity leads to the formation of a paternal super-ego which sets before her active aims to which she can never fully attain." (80)

The male sense of power is visible while female sense of power is invisible and only realized in time.

90--[Women feel that] "There is an empty space in my being which I can never fill" from "Infantile Anxiety Situations" in The Selected Melanie Klein. There is a remarkable story of a painter who filled up empty walls in her home. until she was able to paint the whole mother figure whom she had envisioned she had destroyed. In that way, she gave free expression to unexpressed feelings that had been thwarting her life.


92---Now what is the meaning this empty space within Ruth, or rather, to put it more exactly, of the feeling that there was something lacking in her body?
Here there has come into consciousness one of the ideas connected with that anxiety which, in the paper I read at the last Congress (1927) I described as the most profound anxiety experienced by girls. It is the equivalent of the castration anxiety in boys, The lttle girl has a sadistic desire, originating in the early stages of the Oedipus conflict, to rob the mother's body of its contents, namely, the father's penis, faeces, children, and to destroy the mother herself. This desire gives rise to anxiety lest the mother should in her turn rob the little girl herself of the contents of her body (especially of children) and lest her body should be destroyed or mutlilated. In my view, this anxiety, which I have found in the analyses of girls and women to be the deepest anxiety of all, represents the little girl's earliest danger situation. I have come to realize that the dread of being alone, of the loss of love and of the love object, which Freud holds to be the basic infantile danger situation in girls, is a modification of the anxiety situation I have just described. When the little girl who rears the mother's assault upon her body cannot see her mother, it intensifies the anxiety. The presence of the real, loving mother diminished the dread of the terrifying mother, whose image is introjected into the child's mind. At a later stage of development the content of the dread changes from that of an attacking mother to the dread that the real, loving

93-- mother may be lost and that the girl will be left solitary and forsaken.

The Oedipus Complex Today Britton and others
"The Oedipus Complex and Early Anxieties"
--74--The girl's desire to possess a penis and to be a boy is an expression of her bisexuality and is as inherent as feature in girls as the desire to be a woman is in boys. Her wish to have a penis of her own is secondary to her desire to receive the penis, and is greatly enhanced by the frustrations in her feminine position and by the anxiety and guilt experience in the positive Oedipus situation. The girl's penis envy covers in some measure the frustrated desire to take her mother's place with the father and to receive children from him. I can only touch upon the specific factors which underlie the girl's super-ego formation. Because of the great part her inner world plays in the girl's emotional life, she has a strong urge to fill this inner world with good objects. This contributes to the intensity of her introjective processes, which are also reinforced by the receptive nature of her genital. The admired internalized penis of her father forms an intrinsic part of her super-ego. She identifies herself with her father in her male position, but this identificaiton rests on the possession of an imaginary penis. Her main identification with her father is experienced in relation to the internalized penis of her father, and this relation is based on the feminine as well as on the male position. In the feminine position she is driven by her sexual desire, and by her longing for a child, to internalize her father's penis. She (75) is capable of complete submission to this admired internalized father, while in the male position she wished to emulate him in all her masculine aspiration and sublimations.

In spite of the prominence of the inner world in her emotional life, the little girl's need for love and her relation to people show a great dependence on the outer world. This contradiction is however, only apparent, because this dependence on the outer world is reinforced by her need to gain reassurance about her inner world.