Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 December 2020
Melanie Klein was the first child psychoanalyst who delineated the rich and astounding inner lives of infants and young children and demonstrated the fundamental importance of mothers’ roles in human development. She was one of the founders of the “object relation theory” school, and her concepts – including “projective identification,” “depressive position,” and “paranoid-schizophrenic position” – have remained influential in clinical practice. Klein grew up in an impoverished immigrant family and suffered from multiple losses during her childhood and young adulthood, including the death of her father and two of her siblings. During most of her adult life, she was weighed down by a very difficult marriage, as well as estrangement from her own children. Her decades’ long fights with Anna Freud made life even more difficult for her (and for others). Yet, she survived it all and went on to make major contributions. This chapter provides a sketch of Klein’s life, focusing on various difficulties confronting her throughout her life, and their relationship with her insights and contributions.