Skip to navigation

melanie klein trust

Melanie Klein Trust

Furthering the psychoanalytic theory
and technique of Melanie Klein

1903-20 Budapest: marriage & family

Dates

1903

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 together in Rosenberg, close to Arthur's family.

In May, Melanie discovers that she is pregnant.

1904

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

1905

Melanie, Arthur and baby 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.

1906

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. She was always convinced of his brilliance, and believed he would have done great things if he had lived.

1907

On 2nd March, Melanie gives birth to her second child and first son, Hans, after struggling through a deep depression during the 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. Not long after their relocation, Melanie's mother Libussa, by now widowed and living alone, moves in with them.

1908

Melanie becomes increasingly anxious and depressed, clearly very unhappy with her married life in this small, unfamiliar town. She goes away often, visiting friends and family, and making trips to Budapest and Abbazia, to try to alleviate her unhappiness. 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, encouraged by her mother in a series of rather guilt-inducing and interfering letters.

Meanwhile, 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 exchanged over the course of their careers. Ferenczi is to have an enormous effect on Klein, as her first analyst, professional supporter and friend.

1909

In May, in a state of severe depression, Melanie visits a sanatorium in Chur, an alpine town in eastern Switzerland. In June she moves a little further south, to St Moritz. She is experiencing problems with her bladder. In a letter from her mother, there is a suggestion that Melanie might be pregnant again, something she dreads.

In November, the Kleins and Libussa move to Svabhegy, a suburb of Budapest, Hungary.

Freud publishes his study of 5-year-old 'Little Hans,' the first such psychoanalytic observation of a chlid. The analysis is carried out by the boy's father, according to detailed directions from Freud.

1910

In the new surroundings of Budapest, Melanie spends much of her time with Jolanthe Vágó, Arthur’s sister, and Klara, Jolanthe’s divorced sister-in-law. She grows 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 centrally important figure for her, both regarding the development of her psychoanalytic theory and her own emotional life.

1911

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

Again Melanie spends her summer holiday in Rügen with Klara.

1912

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.

1913

Around Christmas 1913, Klein finds she is again pregnant.

 

 

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

1914

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.

1916

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

1917

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.

1918

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 

1919

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.

1920

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.