Transference under crossfire.

 Learning from the Controversies

Consulter l’édition originale.

I emerged from the French translation of The Freud-Klein Controversies with quite a few questions about psychoanalysis, psychoanalytical institutions and their history. I would like to share two of these questions with you. They are the following: were the controversies that shook the British psychoanalytical society at the beginning of the 40’s really and mainly between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein and, if not, what other important forces were in confrontation ? Do the disagreements between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, whatever their scope and implications, have a singular history of their own ? I would like to begin with this last question and then go back to the first one. But in order to do this, I must first set forth a few considerations and apologise for reminding you of scenes that you know so well.
The history of the psychoanalytic movement is occasionally nurtured by myths. These can disturb our understanding of the moments in which a way of thinking was elaborated, of what was at stake at its birth, of the direction it was given. The psychoanalytical treatment of children on the one hand, the conflict between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein on the other, have contributed to the creation of these myths. There is a legend concerning the extension and the persistence of this conflict. These myths and legends often help to conceal fundamental issues underlying questions related to the presence of education in psychoanalysis – a modern formulation of the old problem concerning the presence of suggestion in interpretation –, the role of countertransference in the assessment of transference and even in its creation.
By retracing the course of the disagreements between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, I hope to justify my questioning .
Freud’s approach to children is a determining factor in his thought, more than is admitted in certain psychoanalytic circles. The refusal to consider the psychoanalysis of children as a full-fledged component of psychoanalysis ends with Melanie Klein.
In 1921, Freud writes to Ferenczi: “On March 13th of this year, I abruptly entered what really is old age. Ever since, the thought of death has never left me…[1].” The same year Melanie Klein publishes « A child’s development », in which she is already working on the struggle between the pleasure and the reality principles, as well as on the importance of death for children [2].
In 1926, the day of his birthday, Freud pretends to give up active participation in the psychoanalytic movement. Karl Abraham, who had foreseen the importance of child analysis, dies. Anna Freud, who had been analysing children for some years, publishes her Introduction to psychoanalytic technique with children. Freud publishes Inhibition, Symptoms and Anxiety. These coincidences are not fortuitous and can be explored and exploited in all directions. The early stages of child psychoanalysis and questions related to death are intimately connected. They were marked by serious dissension.Various epithets were ascribed to the controversies that took place at the British Society between 1942 and 1944: “struggle without mercy”, “bitter combat”, “incredible violence”, “ the most important period of the history of psychoanalysis in Great Britain”. The controversies are sometimes understood as a confrontation between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, sometimes interpreted as putting British analysts at odds with their “continental counterparts”. Their scope has been diversely circumscribed. Ernest Jones: “The development of sexuality, particularly in women, the origins of superego and its relations with the œdipal complex, the technique for analysing children and the conception of the death instinct [3].” Later, Jean Laplanche reduced this scope: the technique of play, the question of transference, the presence of education within psychoanalysis [4]. They were later broadened again: the questions of narcissism, the origins of the ego, of the superego, of the œdipal complex and of early object relations [5]. When revised by contemporary British analysts, the landscape may acquire other aspects, which nonetheless obey a similar movement of expansion and contraction. It may include the role of Nachträglichkeit and its effects on œdipal elaboration as well as on the working through of castration anxiety, the articulation of Kleinian metapsychology to Freudian metapsychology, different conceptions of the analytic technique and of the role of interpretation [6]. But again this may also be reduced to traditionally recognised themes: the approach to phantasy, the anticipation of the œdipal complex, the importance of destructiveness, the correspondence between playing and free association, the question of children’s transference [7].
The very grandiloquence of the epithets ascribed to these discussions seems to contribute to their dramatisation: this not only is detrimental to their clarification, but also generates tendencies to approach these discussions in a homogeneous manner. Moreover, whether the controversies extended over a period of more than fifty years or whether they only lasted for intermittent periods of some years may be open to discussion. All of these considerations justify a return to my two questions.

On the violence between analysts

Very early on, certain psychoanalysts, among whom Ferenczi, reduced the main differences between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein to diverging conceptions of the relationship between education and psychoanalysis [8]. This author had an interest in thus simplifying the matter, for he could then claim to have clarified the relationship between the two disciplines as early as 1908; but this simplification was also to engage psychoanalysis on a large detour, full of confusion and predicaments.
In a certain way, it is Anna Freud who opens the hostilities. In 1926, she delivers four conferences at the Viennese Society. These conferences are immediately published as a book. She pursues her critical vein in another conference, this time at the Berlin Society, in March of the following year. In May, Barbara Low reports on Anna Freud’s criticism at a meeting of the British Society – almost a translation according to Jones. Melanie Klein replies severely in a contribution that bears the title of the Symposium at which it was presented [9]. This debate continues in part at the Tenth Congress of Psychoanalysis, at Innsbruck, the very same year. Rarely have available documents been so eloquent on the origins of a scientific controversy, its ties with the confrontation of celebrities, and the use of rhetoric as a way of camouflaging the comprehension one analyst may have of another.
The style of the talks or the writings given by the principal participants of the debates merit more attention than the already familiar manifest topics of their controversies. Anna Freud begins her first conference very simply: « In the area of psychoanalysis of children, there are the opinions of Melanie Klein. We discussed them among ourselves in Vienna. Those who do not share her views are numerous. I have nothing to add to this myself, as I am not in a position to settle the question. On the other hand, I would like to explain my work to you, » is essentially what she says [10]. And she forgets Melanie Klein. This disregard of Klein’s work persists to the end of the second conference, when she resumes: « Melanie Klein thinks that a child’s play is the equivalent of adult free association. At first glance, this solves all problems. This is not the case. » And Anna Freud dedicates her entire third conference to this question, so as to reject Klein’s experience. « No, a child’s play does not correspond to free association [11]. » She explains her statement and, once again, simply forgets Melanie Klein. At her fourth conference, she does not bring this up and devotes herself entirely to expounding her conception of the relationships between the psychoanalysis of children and education, and finishes by diminishing the importance of the first. She totally dismisses Melanie Klein. That is Anna Freud’s fundamental violence: she regards the other with distraction, she would like to ignore the other, not see him/her. It is true that the expression of this personality trait was not exclusively reserved for Melanie Klein. It was used with all those persons whose interest for the advancement of her cause she was unable to grasp.
At this time, Melanie Klein has already written more than ten papers on the analysis of children, but she has not yet written a book, supposed to be more prestigious. She has just settled in London. Her principal theories are well-established: the difference between the child and adult psychoanalysis concerns a technique, and not principles [12]; in the analysis of children, transference is established at once [13]; the object of analysis is the œdipal complex, repression and castration anxiety [14]. Anna Freud took none of this into consideration. Melanie Klein’s response to her was implacable.
Anna Freud addresses the psychoanalytic community when she talks about Melanie Klein. She explains what she considers to be the differences between them. Melanie Klein, on the contrary, asks the psychoanalytic community to bear witness to her personal indictment of Anna Freud. Over and above the psychoanalytic community, Anna Freud’s person is her personal target. As she recounts the history of the psychoanalysis of children, she shows the progress and the errors of Hug-Hellmuth, she uses Freud’s experience to support her statements and refutes almost every line of her rival’s paper. In sum, Melanie Klein simply says: « Anna Freud doesn’t understand a single thing, she doesn’t say a word about the œdipal complex, the castration complex or about guilt; she says nothing about the unconscious, anxiety, or about the particularities of transference »; « Anna Freud’s premises and conclusions form a vicious circle »; « I cannot but vigorously combat Anna Freud’s statement »; « Anna Freud, I believe, often overestimates and therefore does not correctly interpret »; « …one of the reasons for the disagreements between Anna Freud and myself… », « my analytical knowledge of small children compels me to support a completely different opinion.. », « …probably the most striking and the most fundamental difference in our attitudes.. » and finally: « What was missing in Anna Freud’s interpretation ? Everything…[15]
Thus is Melanie Klein’s violence. She believes she knows what the other ignores and only she really knows. For she does knows. She looks at Anna Freud up close and, above all, she does not want her rival to elude her scrutinising gaze, whereas the other claims to avert her eyes. She knows all the texts, and she cites them. Melanie Klein cannot stand the fact that the other systematically disqualifies the psychoanalysis of children, considering it a by-product of adult analysis, a position undoubtedly in retreat with respect to Freud’s position. Neither of them wish to recognise that, basically, it is not the same child who occupies them. The violence they exercise against one another is diametrically opposed and yet, with time, the violence of the one will espouse the forms of the other’s violence. It is Melanie Klein who will no longer pay attention to the theoretical work of Anna Freud and it will be Anna Freud who will constantly be attentive to Melanie Klein. But the violence to come will be totally different.In 1927, the Innsbruck Congress unfolded in a climate of widespread suspicion and violence. The violence of supposed disguised censorship concerning psychoanalytical publications exercised by Jones and by Radò, the violence of the discussions between Freud and Jones on the subject of Anna’s analysis, the violence of the triumvirate formed by Freud, Ferenczi and Eitingon against Jones’ accession to the presidency of the International Association, the violence provoked by the overlapping of the issues of lay and child analysis.
It is in this climate that Anna Freud provides an unvarying response to Melanie Klein: she feigns to hear nothing. In the paper she presents at Innsbruck, « Contribution to the theory of child analysis », she pretends Melanie Klein advocates her own theses. Claiming for herself and for other analysts important advancements with respect to Kleinian theses, Anna Freud goes on to a lengthy account of cases and concludes that the analyst should be aware of “the educational influences to which the child is submitted and – whenever it seems necessary – should discharge the educators from their task for the duration of analysis and take it on himself [16].” Now it is at this same meeting that Melanie Klein presents an extremely important paper, which brings child psychoanalysis out of its prehistory and starts its own history: « The early stages of the œdipal conflict ». Indeed, this paper brings about a revolution in psychoanalysis, as it touches on a good number of issues : among these, the conception of the formation of the ego and the superego, the differences in the psychical development of girls and boys. It also widens the traditional approaches to psychosis. Melanie Klein makes no references to Anna Freud and, unfortunately, some of her theses seem remarkably similar to those of Rank, with whom Freud has just broken.
And the theoretical debate between the two women thus closes. The clinical quarrels between Melanie Klein and Anna Freud are finished. Five years later, introducing her 1932 book, Melanie Klein reviews disagreements between them. Essentially they concern children’s transference and the technique needed to interpret it, as well as the precocity of the superego [17]. Until 1947, neither one will mention the other in her writings. That year, Melanie Klein adds a short introduction to the paper in which she so vividly attacked Anna Freud : « Things have considerably changed, Anna Freud has changed a great deal, her ideas have come closer to mine! » That’s all. This note refers to a last remark made by Susan Isaacs in the discussion of her own paper during the controversies of the British Society, for even if in the book Anna Freud publishes in 1946, she still reaffirms her doubts with respect to the possibility of perfectly identifying the technique of play and free association, she never mentions Melanie Klein’s name. Reciprocal attempts to harm one another is left to intermediaries or done in the bastions.
This does not mean that there were no heated exchanges between them when they met each other in London at the British Society. But also on rare occasions when their personal contact revealed a certain amount of agreement, they were able to disregard reciprocal animosity. Nonetheless, the essence of the debate, its most violent but also its most productive period, did not last more that a few months in 1927. What began as rumours during the twenties in Vienna and Berlin reaches its peak then, and yields ground to mutual ignorance. If both analysts still met each other in 1929, on the committee in charge of the psychoanalysis of children at the International Congress held in Oxford, we have no knowledge of the contents of their discussions. We will later return to the questions raised by the controversies which took place during the Second World War.The exchange conferencesThe violence between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein was accrued by a well spread violence existing in the psychoanalytical movement of the time. A solution to this state of affairs was attempted in the form of a series of conferences.
For the first time, at the Innsbruck Congress, British analysts were massively present on the international scene. They supported Melanie Klein who was counting, in particular, with the backing of the British apparatus and notably with Jones, its president, and with Glover, its vice-president. Until then, the British had held an inferior position with respect to the “continental” analytic scene, by definition from Vienna, Budapest and Berlin. But this time the “continentals” had no new thesis to propose. It became evident that what was going on was not simply a quarrel about jealousy or about priority between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, but something quite different, which called into question established psychoanalytic theories. It also appeared that the relations between two important groups of analysts, the “British” and the “Continentals”, were at risk of deteriorating. Undoubtedly oriented by Freud, Federn and Jones decided to organise an exchange of conferences between Vienna and London.
The first one was held in Vienna on April 24, 1935. In dealing with female infantile sexuality, Jones explains his understanding of the differences between the two psychoanalytic groups, but also states that these are not disagreements between two schools of psychoanalysis or even among diverging trends within each school. They are simply differences in the individual opinions of analysts poorly informed about one another, in countries divided by the continuing aggravation of social and economic conditions. Jones sustains his diplomatic skills throughout his talk. His tact leads him to state, for example: “Few are those English analysts who read the Zeitschrift or the Viennese analysts who read the Journal…It is true that German work is more easily accepted by the Journal than is English work by the Zeitschrift…” – one of many examples in which the claiming of an inferior position is subsequently transformed into the affirmation of a superior position. Jones firmly states these differences of opinion in the presence of Freud, who accepts them without treating either Jones or Melanie Klein as dissidents. However, later in the same talk, Jones revises his position and points to the existence of two « schools », the “British” and the “Viennese”. He was of course simplifying things.
Within a few months, in November, Wälder goes to London to present his first exchange conference, The Problems of Ego Psychology. This presentation, which has never been found, was probably rewritten and published later as a chapter of one of his books [18]. He frequently mentions Melanie Klein whose ideas he finds stimulating but difficult to corroborate, given the fact that they are based on children who have not yet acquired the use of speech. Nonetheless, he does not consider her a dissident. Wälder sustains the same tone of diplomatic politeness that Jones had used. The British gave him a warm welcome and organised small groups to receive him and discuss in detail all the themes raised during his conference [19].
On May 5, 1936, Joan Riviere presented another conference, this time in Vienna. The subject was the genesis of psychic conflict in early infancy. Riviere specifies that the questions she is dealing with – particularly those related to oral sadism, projection and introjection – have already been presented in London by her predecessor. This is the only time she mentions a Viennese author other than Freud, whom she cites abundantly, together with Melanie Klein. She also cites Glover, Melitta Schmideberg, Sylvia Payne, Marjorie Brierley and Karin Stephen, but never does she mention Anna Freud.
Her presentation is above all propaganda: “The novel work of Melanie Klein has led, in particular, to a close study of the problems of the British Psychoanalytical Society and has, in my opinion, directly or indirectly influenced the greater part of the work of its members in the last few years”; “The work of Melanie Klein and of her disciples has shown us that the psychic mechanisms of projection and introjection have a much greater importance and a far wider influence on each stage of psychic development than was previously believed [20]”, and so on. Many of her statements do not coincide with the assertions made by other British authors at the time. Brierley, who does not totally reject Kleinian theses, never seems to have admitted all of them and, above all, does not acknowledge their influence on her work. Joan Riviere is an emphatic, passionate and fascinating speaker. She lacks on this occasion Jones’ or Wälder’s tact and measure.
The same year, the response to Riviere’s contribution is given again by Wälder, in a talk which simply points out the problems raised by his colleague [21]. He recognises that numerous analysts have contributed to the expansion of psychoanalysis – and Melanie Klein in particular – even if British authors are not unanimous in their opinions. He develops at length his conceptions of the criteria defining scientific work, and in particular, those criteria he understands as specific to psychoanalysis. Wälder does not consider any of his arguments as conclusive, but he thinks with modesty, that they confer on him a right to raise questions and that no response based simply on arguments such as « analysis has shown » or « our experience has shown » can satisfy him. If it is true that Wälder comes close to stating that Kleinian views correspond to a paranoid construction, his own conceptions of science are not far from it.
He finds some points difficult to admit, such as Melanie Klein’s conception of phantasy and transference. Concerning the first point, Kleinian theory appears to him as a “biologism without biology” but, once again, he has no intention to refute her arguments, but wishes to record differences of opinion. Concerning the second point, he finds that Kleinian analysts seem to neglect the aspects of reality which are a part of transference. Wälder finds traumatic the use of interpretation which, in his opinion, is of a seductive nature, for it neglects the educational character of the simple presence of an adult by a child. On the other hand, Wälder finds Kleinian usage of the concept of introjection interesting, even if he questions the uniformity of its utilisation. Finally, Wälder revives a question which will be taken up again in its totality by Lacan: it is not evident that psychotic traits present in the normal ego are the same as those found in psychotics.
Even if Wälder does not have Riviere’s flame or Jones’ diplomacy, he intends to be far more attentive and courteous than the two British speakers had been. Even if, in a certain sense, he may sometimes seem boring, Wälder shows a concern for establishing real exchanges. Jones, but even more so Joan Riviere, aim rather at disseminating their theses. The manifest violence of the period around 1926-27 became latent during this later period, given repression stemming from two sources: the needed sublimation imposed by Freud and, as pointed out by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner [22], the growth of Nazi violence. It is on the basis of the disagreements previously evoked that the scientific discussions will resume later, during the major controversies.

The Great controversies

I now wish to submit the following considerations. The first extraordinary business meeting, called by four members of the British Society of Psychoanalysis, took place on February 25, 1942. Four other similar meetings were held successively, through June 10. At the general annual meeting held on July 29, the organisation of a set of scientific meetings was decided and their planning was completed by October 21.
The business meetings of these controversies are a full first part of them. They correspond to the institutional aspect of psychoanalytic politics. During these meetings, Glover discovers a sort of unanimity against him: he has been holding power for too long and he is autocratic. He and Melitta Schmideberg accuse Melanie Klein and hers disciples of plotting to obtain full control of the Training Committee, although it is not clear whether Glover was not himself aiming at the same thing. He bases his allegations on wrong data. Sylvia Payne, who was not considered a Kleinian, manages to establish true data, which contradicts him.
In 1939, Anna Freud had refused to organise lectures on child psychoanalysis at the British Society. She justified this by claiming that those who had received a different psychoanalytic training could not benefit from her teaching. The following year, she struck even harder. During the Training Committee meeting of April 24, 1940, she violently attacks Melanie Klein, claiming that only her own methods and those of her co-workers deserved the label « Freudian analysis ». She accuses Klein’s work of being a by-product. The proof she gives is the difference between Klein’s work and what she and « true Freudians » knew to be « true analysis ». She thus put herself in an extremely delicate situation for, at the same meeting, Glover tries to exclude Kleinian theories from the Society’s teaching (Grosskurth, 320 & 326). This was the only occasion in which Anna Freud and Glover came close to forming an alliance.
And yet, on the preceding day, April 23, Strachey had written to Glover, then President of the Training Committee, to recommend an altogether different solution. He wrote : “I should rather like you to know (for your personal information) that – if it comes to a show-down – I’m very strongly in favour of compromise at all costs [23]”. This is the first occasion during the controversies in which an open conflict breaks out between Strachey and Glover. With time, the outcome of the controversies will depend more on disagreements between these two men rather than on the conflict between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein. But Melanie Klein did not wait for Strachey’s letter to protect herself. During this meeting, she worked to isolate Glover from the rest of the British group. With time, it will appear that Glover never managed to really confront the group and try to win its favour.
The best conclusion that one can come to about this incident between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, and the most generous one too, is that Anna Freud was simply trying to protect, above all else, her Austrian psychoanalytic identity, all that was left to this group of refugees. We must also remember that, particularly for Anna Freud, loosing her country was equivalent to loosing her father. It was because of this great pain, and in her attempt to work through the mourning of this loss, that she claimed for herself alone the title of « Freudian analysis ». An interpretation of this episode as full of calculations and suppositions in view of base political manoeuvres does not seem to be appropriate. An angelic view that would attribute to British psychoanalysts and to older refugees the wish to protect a fragile orphan would be undue idealisation. Between these two views, something more realistic must have occurred.
Melanie Klein was brave enough to call Anna Freud on January 1, 1942. They most certainly presented to one another the usual greetings for this period of the year. Klein later wrote to Riviere about what they had talked. They had agreed that a splitting of the Society should be avoided. They validated their old idea of two parallel Training Courses in the Society, which could later lead to some collaboration. Anna Freud feared that these ideas would not be accepted by the rest of the Society. Even if she thought that Glover would be a better President, she was ready to accept Sylvia Payne in that position, since she found her sufficiently independent and objective towards both their contributions. Klein proposed the organisation of closed meetings between their two groups to tackle existing divergences. Anna Freud accepted this principle. Both of them agreed that these meetings should be open to others members. Finally, Anna Freud gave up this project, after it had been criticised by Marjorie Brierley, apparently for institutional reasons, but which could have concealed a fear of encountering strangers. In any case, there were bridges enough between the two women. For instance, Willi Hoffer and Joan Riviere were old friends. Melanie Klein’s telephone call prefigured almost the entire development of the controversies. She was well aware that Anna Freud was not a real menace to her.
During the five extraordinary business meetings, not once did these two women came close to hurting one another. Nor did the members of their respective groups attack one another. Reading the descriptions of these meetings, we may have the weird impression of children’s dragon tales, when they expect that dragons will fight to death simply because this is what their infantile phantasy tells them. Maybe the climate was heavy for some of the participants, but it was seldom stormy: thunder didn’t strike where it was expected. The primal scene appears violent, but most often it is a storm in a child’s bath. Real acrimony during these controversies was expressed by Glover and Melitta Schmideberg against Melanie Klein and her group. Their criticism was virulent. They accused her of plagiarism, of plotting to gain power, of corrupting patients to convert them to their theories, of fractionism and proselytism. Most of these accusations were delusory, and those which might have been grounded were expressed in such a way that they met general reprobation. Finally, accusations and attacks showed their true nature: they were not really aimed against a person or a group, but against psychoanalysis itself and the institution that was protecting it at that time. For the accusers, proof that the institution was bad was the fact that it would not support them. Even if Anna Freud or Melanie Klein were at times discouraged by the Society’s situation, they were never so venomous as Glover and Melitta.
On July 29, 1942, the members of the institution asked the Training Committee to prepare a report on its orientations and to organise scientific meetings in which the Kleinians could explain their theories. On September 21, 1942, in response to this first request, Glover presented to the Training Committee an introductory paper on the psychoanalytical training. From then until February 1944, the Training Committee meetings and the Scientific meetings were held in parallel, as King and Steiner have pointed [24]. On January 27, 1943, Susan Isaacs presented her paper on the nature and function of phantasy. There seems to be no real evidence that this meeting and the following ones have been violent or dramatic in any way, even if they were sometimes passionate. The arguments advanced may nowadays appear clear or obscure, but the discussions did not bring anything unheard of.
Meanwhile, on February 24, Strachey offered his own notes on psychoanalytical training to the Training Committee: they conveyed a very different orientation from the one presented by Glover, whom he severely criticised. Glover reacted immediately and violently, to reaffirm his views and attack Strachey’s. Allow me to state here that Strachey’s commentaries, which will became a report, are one of the most beautiful pieces on epistemology and, to my opinion, quite better than what philosophers like Popper or the like would develop latter.
Anna Freud’s first intervention at a Scientific meeting occurred the same day Susan Isaacs presented her paper, just after Jones’ and Glover’s commentaries. She thanked Isaacs for the clarity of her paper, for her contribution to an improved understanding and description of the divergences. Anna Freud intervened twice during the fourth meeting of the scientific controversies, on April 7. This time, she opened the discussion by presenting what for her and maybe for most participants were the real divergences, namely: the age at which object relations and early phantasies begin, the synthetic function of the ego and the early feelings of guilt and reparation, the use of the concept of early phantasy. This last concept seems to have been at the very core of these divergences.
Anna Freud was to raise her voice once more at the end of this fourth meeting, to answer a question by Sylvia Payne on the subject of her conception of the age when object relations start. Anna Freud replied that she was ready to accept their beginning as early as the sixth month.
During the last meeting at which her paper was discussed, Susan Isaacs made a long speech, in which she summarised her understanding of the Austrian positions. Her summary was largely based on Wälder’s interventions during the exchange conferences of 1936 and 1937 and on Anna Freud’s book, The ego and the defence mechanisms. Susan Isaacs showed with rich details Anna Freud’s transformation from the time her book was published to her most recent interventions. Anna Freud was to speak once more and for the last time during these scientific meetings. She wanted to put on record that not answering right away did not mean that she agreed or accepted the theories just expressed.
Given that there were no other interventions by Anna Freud or by members of her group, it seems delicate to attribute these controversies to disagreements between herself and Melanie Klein, or even between Freudians and Kleinians. An altogether different thing is to wonder why, generation after generation, we have believed this was so. A very simple answer would be to suppose that Kleinians have had an interest in presenting the controversies this way, allowing them to claim a « victory » over « Freudians » and even over Freud himself. This particular moment of psychoanalytic history really did correspond, after all, to the constitution of the Kleinian movement as such. But Klein claimed to be a Freudian as much as Glover did, and a better one, too. Roudinesco gives us more generous reasons to consider these controversies as « great » and as implying the names of Freud and Klein. To begin with, she underlines the fact that, for the first time, serious psychoanalytic divergences did not end up in dissidence or exclusion and, second, that these controversies inaugurated an era of reinterpretation of Freud’s works.
I want to point out still two other reasons. The first one is that, all in all, these controversies have been a long and careful enterprise of clarification of Freud’s and, secondarily, of Klein’s contributions to psychoanalysis. The second one is that these controversies created for the first time the space for open debate in which psychoanalysis would blossom as a special mode of oral and written transmission of human experience. As such, the controversies implied in a most important way the names of the Stracheys, Marjorie Brierley, Kate Friedlander, Ella Sharpe, Adrian and Karin Stephen, of course Sylvia Payne; John Rickman, and other psychoanalysts who, without being Freudians in the sense understood by Glover, were true Freudians and, without being Kleinians, really wanted to understand Klein’s theories.
After Anna Freud’s remarks, the controversies went their own way. Following the clash between Glover and Strachey, in the autumn of 1943, while the Society was quickly discussing Paula Heimann’s paper on introjection and projection, Anna Freud, Marjorie Brierley and Melanie Klein presented their own contributions to the Training Committee. Just after this discussion, at its meeting held on November 24, 1943, Ella Sharpe and Sylvia Payne presented their notes on training. Finally, a preliminary report of the committee was presented and discussed. After long considerations on the functioning of the Training Committee, this report suggested that members “prominently involved in acute scientific or personal controversies” should not be appointed to the Training Committee or as training and control analysts.
These recommendations produced something that until then was unseemly, but that now unveils its implacable logic. Glover did not agree with the preliminary report: he felt that its recommendations were aimed at him and he resigned from the Society. Glover’s letter was read at the Training Committee meeting of January 24, 1944. Anna Freud asked if she was eligible for training and control and declared that, if not so, she would also resign. Melanie Klein, apparently, never felt that these recommendations concerned her. The following day, she wrote to the members of her group : “The immediate cause for his resignation was the fact that the majority of the members of the Training committee, not consulting me at all in this matter, has united against him and expressed their distrust of his partisanship…[25]”. Apparently, she never felt that her own partisanship could have engendered similar distrust.
Ella Sharpe expressed the true reasons for Glover’s resignation during this same meeting. She said : “I do not support Dr. Glover’s proposal to report to the Society that training has broken down scientifically and practically. … I wish Dr. Glover had not allowed himself to attack his English colleagues, who during these years have given students and their welfare the most assiduous and unfailing attention, believing that in that way the securest foundation for sound judgements would be laid. « Timid », « indifferent, « incoherent », « unorganised », are the epithets he allows himself. That is as far as Dr Glover seems to see or understand. The worst of making unconsidered charges of this kind is that of provoking counter charges.” Ella Sharpe, I believe, was thus expressing the general feelings of the Training Committee.
At the beginning of February, members were informed of Glover’s resignation during extraordinary business meeting. They were surprised and torn as to the measures that should be taken following Glover’s letter and Sylvia Payne commentaries. The proposal that certain members not be allowed to teach was deleted from the final report of the Training Committee. Anna Freud and Melanie Klein had many reasons to be satisfied, even though the first one did not immediately reassume her teaching.
A certain aspect of these meetings, Glover’s and Melitta Schmideberg’s personal attacks against Melanie Klein and her group, began February 25, 1942 and lasted no later than February 9, 1944, just about two years. A pale shadow of the discussions between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, a superficial remake of the exchange conferences between Vienna and London, carried on mainly by the only analysts recognised as belonging to one of the two groups, Dorothy Burlingham and Susan Isaacs, did not last much longer than the first five scientific meetings held between January 27 and May 19, 1943, in other words not more than five months. After Glover’s resignation, the Society calmly tackled the issue of regression, raised by Susan Isaacs and Paula Heimann. As history usually plays its tricks well, at this same meeting, members were to witness one of the most interesting discussions of the entire controversies, on the death drive. Was this not what had driven Glover and Melitta and what the Society had learned to protect itself from, through thought and theorisation ? On March 8, the Training Committee’s final report was discussed at an extraordinary business meeting. In it, Strachey explained his own work and emphasised that the final report included many of Glover’s opinions.
The Second World War reached its end and so did the pioneer group of Kleinians. From 1947 on, a distance began to grow between Joan Riviere and Melanie Klein, John Rickman was no longer considered a Kleinian, Susan Isaacs died suddenly in 1948 and, as of 1949, Paula Heimann and Melanie Klein started to avoid each other, after the first one published a paper on countertransference, the only point that Melanie Klein could not accept and her theory could not include. On June 26, 1946, after a two-year absence, Anna Freud returned to the Society’s meetings; in November, peace was concluded and the project of a psychoanalytic training based on two courses was established. Time was to bring more reasonable alternatives to this project.

And after

However, in many ways, the controversies were still not over. I want to mention some occurrences of their persistence.
On June 3, 1954, Winnicott wrote to Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, asking them to put an end to their groups or at least to their official existence. He wrote : « We might say that whereas Mrs Klein’s partisans are all children and grandchildren, Mrs Freud’s have all been to the same school [26]. » This seemed to be a delicate way of implying that being children’s analysts would not help Melanie Klein to mourn her own children or to mourn the idealised mother she might have dreamed to be or to possess, nor would it help Anna Freud to mourn her early schoolteacher dreams. But Winnicott was already writing from a Middle Group point of view. If this group came to be the external guarantor of a hungry mutual comprehension between those two groups, by the same token, it was excluded from the complicity that such a querulous cohabitation implies.
As of 1963, the drama in the atmosphere slowly began to dissipate. Concerning the transformations of the British society, Strachey stated in his speech for its Jubilee: “Moreover, I should question, really, whether such changes are as important basically as is sometimes believed. No doubt we nowadays hear rather more of mamma and rather less of papa. But I suspect that the really fundamental points in Freud’s discoveries remains unchanged – such as the difference between the primary and secondary processes of thought [27].” We should remember that disregard for this distinction was one of Glover’s main criticisms of Melanie Klein.
In any case, when transference and counter transference are not acknowledged, what is no longer dramatised in one place will reappears as new drama elsewhere. When the British crisis reached a fair end, the French crisis started to grow. What disappeared with Glover, reappeared with Lacan, from an institutional and political point of view. Of course, many things were not acknowledged, for psychoanalytic history seems to be, to a great extent, a permanent return of the repressed. Between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, there seems to have been a repressed transferential and countertransferential element: when Anna Freud advocated the coexistence of education and psychoanalysis, she was mainly justifying her analysis with her father, whereas when Melanie Klein saw an abyss between these two disciplines, she was mainly trying to repress the fact that her first experiences as an analyst were with her own children. Both these women made important contributions to psychoanalytic theory. Their human differences seem irrelevant today, especially if we take into account the fact that, in many ways, their sufferings were similar. Among these, I would like emphasise their difficulty to mourn their ancestors, not only their relatives but also their cultural ancestors. We have inherited these difficulties.
The forces that clashed during the controversies were not mainly those of these two women, but those of a conception of psychoanalysis based on the acknowledgement of transference and history, as suggested in Strachey’s reports, and another conception, based on a totalitarian comprehension of psychoanalytic objectivity and its consequence for human beings.
Only our neutral attention guarantees that countertransference and interpretation will not become suggestion, and will protect developments of our patients’ metapsychology during their cures. Only our capacity to remember can transform mourning into creativity. Our psychoanalytic institutions should also protect this infinitely delicate work.


[1] E. Jones, La vie et l’œuvre de Sigmund Freud, les dernières années (1919-1939), trad. L. Flournoy, PUF, 1969, p. 89.
[2] M. Klein, “Le développement d’un enfant”, Essais de psychanalyse, trad. M. Derrida, Payot, 1968, p. 29-90.
[3] E. Jones, “Sexualité féminine primitive, Théorie et pratique de la psychanalyse, trans. A. Stronck, Payot, 1969.
[4] J. Laplanche, Problématiques V. Le banquet: transcendance du transfert, P.U.F., 1987, p. 103-111. See also X.Renders, Le jeu de la demande, une histoire de la psychanalyse d’enfants, De Boeck-Université, 1991, p. 182-195.
[5] C. Geissmann and P. Geissmann, Histoire de la psychanalyse d’enfants: mouvements, idées, perspectives, Paidos/Bayard, 1992, P; 212-225.
[6] G. Kohon, “Notes on the history of the psychoanalytic movement in Great Britain”, The British School of Psychoanalysis. The Independent Tradition, London, Free Association Books, 1986.
[7] E. Rayner, Le groupe des “Indépendants” et la psychanalyse britannique, trans. directed by C. Wieder, P.U.F., 1994, p. 14-15 and 18-19.
[8] S. Frenczi, “L’adaptation de la famille à l’enfant”, trans. by the Coq Héron group of translators, Psychanalyse, 4, Œuvres Complètes, t. IV: 1927-1933, Payot, 1982, p. 36.
[9] Cf. P Grosskurth, Melanie Klein, son monde et son œuvre, trans. C. Anthony, PUF, 1989.
[10] A. Freud, Le traitement psychanalytique des enfants, first and second parts translated from German by E. Rochat, third part translated from English by A. Berman, PUF, 1981, p. 11-12.
[11] Ibid., p. 41-46.
[12] M. Klein, “Les fondements psychologiques de l’analyse d’enfants”, La psychanalyse des enfants, trans. J.B. Boulanger, PUF, 1969, p. 27.
[13] M. Klein, “La technique de l’analyse des jeunes enfants”, ibid., p. 33.
[14] M. Klein, “L’analyse des jeunes enfants”, Essais de psychanalyse, op. cit., p. 115.
[15] M. Klein, “Colloque sur l’analyse des enfants”, Essais de psychanalyse, op. cit. p. 193-203.
[16] A. Freud, “Contribution à la théorie de l’analyse infantile”, Le traitement psychanalytique des enfants, op. cit., p. 88.
[17] M. Klein, La psychanalyse des enfants, op. cit., p. 11-12.
[18] R. Waelder, “La psychologie analytique du moi”, Les fondements de la psychanalyse, trad. P. Berlot, Payot, 1962, p. 167-196.
[19] P. King, “Background and Developement of the Freud-Klein Controversies in the British Psycho-Analytical Society”, The Freud-Klein Controversies, 1941-1945, Tavistock and Routledge, London and New York, 1991, p. 23.
[20] J. Riviere, “Sur la genèse du conflit psychique dans la toute première enfance”, Développements de la psychanalyse, trad. W. Baranger, PUF, 1966, p. 35-63, and especially 36-38.
[21] R. Wälder, “The Problem of the Genesis of Psychic Conflict in Earliest Infancy”, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1937, 18, 406-473.
[22]. P. King and R. Steiner, The Freud-Klein Controversies, op. cit., p. 24-27.
[23]. Idem, p. 32.
[24]. Idem, p. 242.
[25]. Idem, p. 667-668.
[26] D. W. Winnicott, Lettres vives, trad. M. Gribinski, Gallimard, 1987, pp. 114-115.
[27]. The British Psychoanalytical Society, Fiftieth Anniversary, 30 october 1963.
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