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melanie klein trust

Melanie Klein Trust

Furthering the psychoanalytic theory
and technique of Melanie Klein

1903-20 Budapest: marriage & family



Still in mourning for her brother, Melanie Reizes marries Arthur Klein on 31st March, the day after her 21st birthday. They set up their home in Rosenberg.

In May Melanie finds out she is pregnant.


Klein's first child, Melitta, is born on 19th January.


Melanie, Arthur and one-year-old Melitta make a trip to the Adriatic coast, visiting a number of places including Trieste and Venice.

Freud publishes Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.


In the spring, Melanie accompanies Arthur to an engineering congress in Rome.

After four years of persevering with her friend Irma Schonfeld, Melanie finally sees the publication of a collection of Emmanuel’s writing.


On 2nd March Melanie gives birth to her second child and first son, Hans, after suffering a deep depression during pregnancy.

Late in 1907 the Kleins move to Krappitz, a small provincial town in upper Silesia (now Krapkowice, Poland), where Arthur has been appointed director of a paper mill. Libussa moves in soon afterward.


Melanie becomes increasingly anxious and depressed, clearly very unhappy in her married life in this small, friendless town. She is often away, visiting friends and family, and making trips to Budapest and Abbazia. She receives treatment – such as carbonic acid baths – for her “nerves”. As a result she spends long periods of time apart from her young children, not a little encouraged by her mother Libussa in a series of strange, guilt-inducing and interfering letters.

In this year Freud meets Hungarian pscyhoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. The two men begin an important professional and personal relationship, recorded in more than 1,200 letters over their careers. Ferenczi is to have an enormous effect on Klein, as her analyst, supporter and friend.


In May, now severely depressed, Melanie visits a sanatorium in Chur, an alpine town in eastern Switzerland. In June she moves a little further south, to St Moritz, and is experiencing problems with her bladder. In a letter from her mother, there is a suggestion that Melanie might be afraid that she is pregnant, something that she dreads.

In November the Kleins, with Libussa in tow, move to Svabhegy, a suburb of Budapest.

Freud publishes his study of five-year-old 'Little Hans,' the first such analytic observation of a chlid. The analysis is carried out by the boy's father, as directed by Freud.


In the new scenery of Budapest, Melanie spends much of her time with Jolanthe Vágó, Arthur’s sister, and Klara, Jolanthe’s divorced sister-in-law. She is very close to these two women, especially Klara.

Melanie spends the summer with Klara in Rügen, a resort to the north of Berlin on the Baltic Sea.

Karl Abraham, close friend and colleague of Freud, establishes the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society. Abraham is later to analyse Klein, and to become a deeply important figure in her psychoanalytic thinking and emotional life. 


In August the Kleins move to Rozsdamb, a more affluent area of Budapest.

Again Melanie spends her summer holiday in Rügen with Klara.


Melanie writes to her mother, who is staying temporarily in Vienna, that she is feeling better, in fact "quite healthy." She refers to a "treatment" she has been having, though she does not refer to its nature. It is likely psychological, perhaps even psychoanalytical.


Around Christmas 1913, Klein finds she is again pregnant.



Read Klein's unpublished piece of creative writing, 'Mourning' (1913)...


After another deeply depressed pregnancy, Klein gives birth to her third and last child, Erich, on 1st July. Two weeks later, on the 28th July 1914, the First World War breaks out. Both Arthur Klein and Melanie's brother-in-law Leo Pick are subsequently called up.

Klein begins analysis with Sándor Ferenczi, a Hungarian psychoanaylst intimate with Freud and instrumental in the growth of psychoanalysis. For the first time in Klein's life she is able to talk about her emotional experiences, and to be listened to by a highly intelligent, attentive, perceptive audience of one. This encounter with Ferenczi is nothing less than a watershed in her life.

At some point in this year Klein reads Sigmund Freud’s On Dreams ('Über den Traum,' 1901). She is immediately filled with huge excitement about the insights and possibilities revealed by Freud, and becomes devoted to psychoanalysis.

In October Ferenczi is called up to serve as a doctor to the Hungarian Hussars, though he continues to be analysed by Freud by post. He carries out some analyses himself, both in the army and on return visits to Budapest.

In late October the Kleins take Libussa to be x-rayed, following a severe loss of weight. Cancer is ruled out by the doctor. However, she rapidly develops bronchitis, and on 6th November Melanie Klein’s mother is dead.


Arthur Klein is invalided back home with a leg wound. Ferenczi also returns to Budapest, having been transferred to a neurological hospital.


Freud's famous essay, 'Mourning and Melancholia' is published. Klein will later develop her radical ideas about manic-depressive states, as well as her seminal concept of the depressive position, out of Freud's account of aggression and guilt as central to the experience of the melancholic patient.


On 28th and 29th September, Melanie Klein attends the Fifth Psychoanalytic Congress at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. She hears Freud read his paper, 'Lines of Advance in Psychoanalytic Therapy,' which further fuels her fascination with psychoanalysis. This is almost certainly the first time Klein hears Freud read his work in person, and will be one of the only times. For Klein this is an extraordinary moment, as she comes face to face with the brilliant and deeply revered founder of psychoanalysis.

Toward the end of the year the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolves as its monarchy collapses. The First World War finally ends on the 11th November 1918, after over four years of fighting and millions of lives lost.

Read "Spring" ('Frühling'), a short story written by Klein in 1916 


In July Klein presents her study of her five-year-old son Erich to the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society; it is her first study of a child. She is soon afterward awarded membership.

Arthur Klein leaves Budapest and his family for Sweden in autumn 1919, as the anti-Semitic White Terror takes hold of Hungary. The Hungarian Psychoanalytic movement is all but destroyed by this ferocious counterrevolutionary anti-Semitism. Melanie also leaves Budapest, taking her three children to stay with Arthur’s parents in Rosenberg. Besides the political turmoil, the Kleins' marriage is not working, and it is clear they are increasingly unhappy living together.


In September Klein attends the first International Congress since the war, held in The Hague. She meets Joan Riviere for the first time.

Freud publishes Beyond the Pleasure Principlein which he introduces the bold new idea of the 'death instinct.' This concept, controversial from its incipience, is to play a significant part in the development of Klein's theory, particularly with relation to sadism and ego-splitting in the young child.