Melanie Klein was deeply inspired by Sigmund Freud. Her major breakthrough was in tracing the development of the human mind all the way back to its earliest roots, illuminating the emotional world of babies and young children. Klein’s clinical work, together with her direct observations of babies and their mothers, led her to an ever deeper understanding of the intricate internal dramas at play during the first weeks and months of life.
Klein paid serious attention to how a tiny baby may cope with extreme states of mind, from the intense pleasures and satisfaction of being held, fed and loved, to the pains and frustrations of being left too long in a hungry or frightened state. Still closely attuned to Freud’s original model of the mind, Klein went on to develop radical new theories about infantile experience, showing how the psychological dramas of infancy continue to influence our responses to love and loss throughout our lives.
She became one of the first psychoanalysts to work with children, and her pioneering technique provides the foundation for many clinical trainings and interventions with children and adolescents today.