Melanie Klein and Her Contributions to Modern Psychoanalytic Practice: Concepts, Theories, Clinical Examples

Instructor: Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NCPsyA
Date: 1/15/15-3/19/15, 10 weeks, Thursdays, 8:15pm -9:30pm
Location: In-person – at 115 East 9th Street, 12P, NY, NY 11366, OR Virtual participation – by Internet audio-video or phone/ audio
Post-graduate psychoanalytic education credits offered: 12.5 hours
Continuing Education Information: 12.5 CE
Tuition: $450/10-week course/trimester (can be paid in 2 installments)
Registration fee: $25/course (waived for ORI’s candidates in training)

To Register for this course, please complete the Registration form


This course will open hearts and minds to the core feeling level theory of the extraordinarily brilliant British theorist, Melanie Klein. Melanie Klein, the first object relations theorist, offered her evolutionary theory of the internal world and its profound terrain of affects, psychic fantasy, beyond impulses or memories.

This course participants will get familiar with Kleinian basic object relations clinical and theoretical concepts that allow us to work with preoedipally “arrested” or “traumatized” patient, such as projective-identification, splitting, introjective identification, devaluation, oral envy, omnipotent idealization, and others. Also, the most fundamental developmental and phenomenological psychological phenomena of paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions, as well as mourning and self-integration, will be discussed and illustrated through some clinical examples


First week:

Melanie Klein, “Love, Guilt, and Reparation” in Love, Guilt, and Reparation and Other Works: 1921-1945.

Second week:

Melanie Klein, “Envy and Gratitude” in Envy and Gratitude and Other Works, 1946-1963.

Third week:

Melanie Klein, “Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms”; and Klein’s explanation of the phenomenon of projective-identification.

Fourth week:

Thomas Ogden, The Matrix of the Mind, Chapter 3: “The Paranoid-Schizoid Position: Self as Object.”

Fifth week:

Melanie Klein, “Mourning and Its Relation to Manic-Depressive States.”

This original paper includes:

  • Explanation of concepts of manic defense against the depressive affect states of guilt and loss.
  • Explanation of mourning as a process that involves aggression brought to a symbolic level.
  • Explanation of mourning as a critical clinical and developmental process.

Sixth week:

Thomas Ogden, The Matrix of the Mind, Chapter 4: “The Depressive Position and the Birth of the Historical Subject.”

Seventh week:

1) Melanie Klein, “On the Sense of Loneliness” Envy and Gratitude and Other Works, 1946-1963.

2) Susan Kavaler-Adler, The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: New Transformative Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (Karnac, 2014), Chapter 10.

Eighth week:

Thomas Ogden, The Matrix of the Mind, Chapter 2: “Instinct, Phantasy, and Psychological Deep Structure in the Work of Melanie Klein.”

Ninth week:

Susan Kavaler-Adler, The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: New Transformative Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (Karnac, 2014), Chapter 1, “Melanie Klein Like Moses on the Way to the Promised Land: A case of Pathological Mourning.”

This chapter is related to authentic letters of Melanie Klein and her mother, as researched by Phyllis Grosskurth, in her 1988 biography of Melanie Klein. Derivations of Klein’s theory of “envy and gratitude” and many other theoretical concepts can be seen evolving here. However, a main point is the blocked mourning in the theorist who first spoke of mourning as a critical clinical and developmental process and who first spoke of aggression as part of the mourning process. The fascinating fact is that Melanie Klein herself remained ‘stuck’ in a state of idealization towards her own mother, which prevented her from integrating a split-off aggressive “bad object” (Fairbairn, 1952) part of her internalized mother; that is how her “death instinct metapsychology” emerged, as a symbolic manifestation of her own unresolved mourning. One hypothesis is that the “death instinct” metapsychology is redundant to Klein’s clinical theory, and sometimes can be seen even as compromising it; while other metapsychology about symbolization can be proposed to support the developmental insights of Klein’s theory. Other concepts in this chapter relate to oedipal trauma – as opposed to oedipal romance, – and how this overlies preoedipal arrest pathology.

Tenth week:

Susan Kavaler-Adler, The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: New Transformative Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (Karnac, 2014), Chapter 2.

The discovery of Klein’s own creative writing (mostly short stories), which is again unearthed by Phyllis Grosskurth in her 1988 biography of Klein, can be seen to reveal the “demon lover” themes, which relate to fundamental nature of “developmental arrest” and “pathological mourning” – from an object relations point of view.

The demon lover themes are symptomatic of an underlying addiction to a masculinized aggressive mother figure, which becomes dominant in the psyche, when the father is absent as a kind of counterbalancing figure for internalization. In Melanie Klein’s personal psychohistory, her brother’s envy becomes a trenchant factor in the pathological power for this internal masculinized aggressive mother figure. Then, the yearned for male muse (inspired by innate oedipal longing) turns – in Klein’s psyche – into a rejecting male demon-lover figure, as it was true for many brilliant and well-known artists and writers.

Some additional readings, such as original works of M. Klein and D. W. Winnicott will be offered and distributed via email.

For more information, please contact ORI’s Programs director by email at or by phone (call/text) at 646-522-1056.


Susan Kavaler-Adler, Ph.D., ABPP, D.Litt., NCPsyA is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, who has been in practice in Manhattan for 45 years. She is a Fellow of the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis, and is the Founder and Executive Director of the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.  She is a Training Analyst, Senior Supervisor and active faculty member at the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, a NYS Board of Regents chartered psychoanalytic training institute.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler has an honorary doctorate in literature, and she is a prolific author, with published six books and over 70 articles and book chapters in the field of object relations psychoanalytic theory. Five of her six published books related to clinical object relations theories are The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Transformative New Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (Karnac, 2014); The Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization in Vivid Case Studies (Karnac, 2013); Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2003; Gradiva® Award from NAAP, 2004); The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (Routledge, 1996; ORI Academic Press 2014; Gradiva® Award nomination); The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (Routledge, 1993; ORI Academic Press, 2013). Dr. Kavaler-Adler received 16 awards for her psychoanalytic writing. She is also on the editorial board of the International Journal of Controversial Conversations (IJCC). In addition, Dr. Kavaler-Adler conducts ongoing groups in her practice, such as a monthly writing group, a monthly online experiential supervision group, and a monthly “Mourning, Therapy, and Support Group” with guided visualization. More information can be found at