Learning from the Controversies
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.