Skip to navigation

melanie klein trust

Melanie Klein Trust

Furthering the psychoanalytic theory
and technique of Melanie Klein

1926-38 London: first papers



The London Clinic for Psychoanalysis opens on 6th May, Freud’s 70th birthday.

In September, at the invitation of Ernest Jones, Klein moves permanently to London. She breaks off with Kloetzel (though he is to visit her several times over the next few years), and begins the analyses of Jones’ wife and two children between 15th September and 4th October.

On 17th November, Klein gives a paper before the British Psychoanalytic Society on five-year-old ‘Peter,’ with reference to the castration complex and anal-sadistic phantasy.

Klein's son Erich joins her on 27th December, three months after her arrival. Klein now has six patients in addition to the Jones family.

Read a letter from Klein to Ernest Jones regarding her analysis of his wife (24th Oct 1926)...


On 19th March Anna Freud addresses the Berlin Society on the subject of child analytic technique. Her presentation is a barely disguised attack on Melanie Klein’s approach to psychoanalysis. In response, Ernest Jones organises a symposium for the British Society on the same subject. Sigmund Freud is unhappy with what he sees as an attack on his daughter and, perhaps by extension, himself.

At the beginning of September Klein attends the Tenth International Congress, held in Innsbruck. She delivers her paper, 'Early Stages of the Oedipus Complex,' her most radical conceptual offering to date.

Klein is elected a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society on 2nd October.

Read a letter from Ernest Jones to Freud, concerning Klein (30th September 1927)...


Melitta Schmideberg, Klein’s eldest child and only daughter, comes to London after graduating from university in Berlin. Like her mother she is now pursuing a career in psychoanalysis, and by 1930 she will be a member of the British Society.

Melitta moves in with her mother and brother Erich, while her husband Walter remains in Germany for a further four years.


Klein begins analysis of 'Dick,' a four-year-old boy, seemingly struggling with schizophrenia. His condition has since been re-described as infantile autism. This analysis and its ensuing published paper forms a key moment in Klein’s development of her ideas about early psychosis and its relation to aggression and guilt.

Read a letter from Klein to Ernest Jones (29th January 1929)...


On 5th February Klein presents a paper, ‘The Importance of Symbol-Formation in the Development of the Ego’ to the British Society. It forms a hugely important stage in her psychoanalytic thinking. In this seminal paper, Klein asserts that the child's capacity for symbol formation, and more broadly for the formulation of thought, are vital elements in the healthy development of the ego. This paper is truly innovative, and opened the way to a better understanding of psychotic states.


Klein takes on her first training analysand, Dr. W. Clifford M. Scott, a medical graduate from Toronto, Canada.


Klein’s first major theoretical work, The Psychoanalysis of Children, is published simultaneously in English, by Hogarth Press (set up by Virginia and Leonard Woolf), and in German, by the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. In it she lays the foundations for her later innovation of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions.



Read a letter from Ernest Jones to Klein (1932) on the publication of The Psychoanalysis of Children, and Klein's response...


On 22nd May Sándor Ferenczi dies of pernicious anaemia, at the age of 59.

Klein moves to 42 Clifton Hill, St. John’s Wood. Paula Heimann, fleeing Nazi Germany, moves to London, and becomes Klein's secretary. She subsequently enters analysis with Klein.

Melitta is elected member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis on 18th October. Previously an exponent of her mother’s theoretical position, Melitta becomes increasingly antagonistic toward her, mounting regular, unsparing attacks against her ideas and method in Society meetings.

Kloetzel moves to Palestine at the end of the year, as anti-Semitism rages ever more violently through Europe. Klein will never see him again.


At the beginning of the year Klein starts seeing Sylvia Payne once a week, for treatment of a bout of intense depression.

Melitta begins analysis with Edward Glover, after having been previously analysed by Ella Sharpe. They become close allies against Klein in the on-going British Society infighting.

In April, Melanie’s eldest son Hans dies when a path crumbles under him as he hikes through the Tatra Mountains. He is 27. Melanie does not attend the funeral, held in Budapest, apparently too devastated to make the journey.

Klein reads the first version of her seminal paper, 'The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States' at the Lucerne Congress in August.


On 16th January Klein reads a reworked version of her 1934 Congress paper, 'A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States,' to the British Society. The paper explains her radical, brilliant new concept, the depressive position.

Donald Winnicott, a paediatrician and recently qualified psychoanalyst, begins analysis of Klein’s youngest child Erich, at her request.

In Germany on 15th September, the Nuremberg Laws are passed at the annual Nazi party rally. Jews are stripped of their citizenship, the right to hold influential professional positions, and the right to marry ‘Aryans.’


In February Klein delivers her paper, 'Weaning,' as part of a lecture series open to the public at Caxton Hall. It will later be published as part of Love, Guilt and Reparation and Other Works 1921-1945.


On 19th March Melitta Schmideberg reads her paper, 'After the Analysis – Some Phantasies of Patients,' a searing attack on Kleinian analytic technique and theory.

Klein goes into hospital in July, for an operation on her gall bladder. She writes ‘Observations Following an Operation’ afterward, detailing her emotional reactions to anaesthetic, surgery, and the return to childlike dependency.

She spends August recuperating in Devon with Erich and his new wife, Judy.

In September Klein takes a rare holiday in Italy.

Klein and Joan Riviere jointly present 'Love, Guilt and Reparation,' based on a previous public lecture.

Read Klein's 'Observations After an Operation'...


Emilie and Leo Pick, Klein’s sister and brother-in-law, arrive in England as refugees from Nazi-annexed Vienna. They move into a flat around the corner from Klein.

Sigmund and Anna Freud flee Vienna after the Nazis invade Austria in March. They arrive in London on 6th June. They are just a couple of a flood of refugee psychoanalysts fleeing Nazi Germany and Austria. The effect this influx has on the British Psychoanalytical Society is profound.

On the night of 9th-10th November, Nazi supporters and SA stormtroopers vandalise and destroy Jewish shops and synagogues across Germany and Austria, killing, beating and arresting Jews. This horrific pogrom will become known as Kristallnacht (‘Night of Broken Glass’).

Read an extract from 'A Clinical Study of States of "Ecstasy” Occurring in Affective Disorders', read and copied out by Klein...