My second assignment is fast approaching, gathering speed in the way that only deadlines do. Nombre deux goes back to the roots of psychoanalysis. Familiarity with Dr Freud’s concepts of tripartite personality and the oedipal process is a prerequisite. The starting point is Melanie Klein and Object Relations theory. The essay title is along the lines of ‘what has object relations ever done for us?’ The answer seems to be quite a lot – but only if you lived in the UK. The fall out between Anna Freud and Mrs Klein, resulting in Miss Freud moving to America to peddle her father’s psychoanalytic practice, led to an Atlantean split in ideas and approaches. Interestingly, both ladies seem to have issues which suggest all was not well in their own ‘psychic’ lives; particularly intriguing is the estrangement between Klein and her daughter. For someone who promoted expertise in the management of infant anxiety, she seems to have well messed up her own maternal practice.
Following on from recent posts on the potential resurgence in feminist politics, I’m finding it appropriate to be revisiting identity construction. Both Freud and Klien were products of their cultural time with an unchallenged acceptance of partiarchal systems and values. When Karen Horney postulated womb envy as an alternative to penis envy, and dared to suggest that rather than a portion of the male anatomy what women were really envious of was the male role in society, her work was not enthusiastically received. Most 20th century analytic thought still rests on Freud’s oedipal assumptions despite their emphasis on the category of male and invisibility of the female, perceived as lack rather than possession. The symbolism of Oedipus blinding himself is apt one, in more ways than Freud might have ever realised.