Individual Psychology Section

Anxiety Defences:

Origin, Functioning and Evolution,

Part II

A detailed critique of Melanie Klein's work on 'paranoid-schizoid' defences in Chapters 6-9 of 'Developments in Psycho-Analysis', Edited by Joan Riviere, being No. 43 in the International Psycho-Analytic Library, published by the Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, London, 1952. [1980]

This is the second position paper dealing with the Kleinian analytic construct. The first dealt with the general introduction and background exposition of some of the Kleinian concepts, contributed by the other authors of 'Developments in Psycho-Analysis'. This paper focuses on the writing of Melanie Klein herself in that book

Four papers by Melanie Klein are presented in 'Developments in Psycho-Analysis'. The first (Chapter 6) lays the conceptual foundation. The second (Chapter 7) deals with the methodology of clinical observation of young infants. These two chapters are followed by notes on the theory of anxiety and guilt (Chapter 8) and finally notes on some schizoid mechanisms (Chapter 9).

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Chapter 6, Pages 198 - 236,
Some Theoretical Conclusions Regarding the Emotional Life of the Infant

The chapter is divided into four sections:

a)  the first three or four months of life (the paranoid-schizoid position),
b)  the infantile depressive position,
c)  further development and the modification of anxiety,
d)  conclusion.

As an introduction to the whole chapter, Melanie Klein writes:

"My study of the infant's mind has made me more and more aware of the bewildering complexity of the processes which operate, to a large extent simultaneously, in the early stages of development. In writing this chapter I have therefore attempted to elucidate some aspects only of the infant's emotional life during his first year, and have selected these with particular emphasis on anxieties, defences and object-relations." [p.198]

In an attempt to manage the anxiety generated by such 'bewildering complexity', the author selects certain mechanisms for examination, so enabling order and comprehension to be established within a boundary, while the confusion and chaos is banished beyond the frontiers. This example of splitting, idealisation, denial, introjection and projection with omnipotent manipulation, is a superb example in her own work of precisely those processes which she elucidates within the infantile behaviour. This position paper will address itself to those boundaries of the Kleinian construct which indicate the presence of unanalysed paranoid-schizoid dynamics still operative within Kleinian understanding, inaccessible to Kleinian analysis, resistant to Kleinian interpretation and intervention, the probing of whose origin is still taboo. If the origin of these mechanisms deep in the primal unconscious were to be probed, the attempt would raise intolerable anxieties of persecution and the experience of being overwhelmed precisely by that chaos, bewilderment and confusion which is the intellectualised counterpart of ego disintegration under high stress. The Kleinian construct therefore represents a collusional system which is matched to, and reinforces, normal anxiety defences both social and individual.

Section One: The Paranoid-Schizoid Position

"At the beginning of post-natal life the infant experiences anxiety from internal and external sources. I have for many years held the view that the working of the death instinct within gives rise to the fear of annihilation and that this is the primary cause of persecutory anxiety. The first external source of anxiety can be found in the experience of birth. This experience, which, according to Freud, provides the pattern for all later anxiety-situations, is bound to influence the infant's first relations with the external world. It would appear that the pain and discomfort he has suffered, as well as the loss of the intra-uterine state, are felt by him as an attack by hostile forces, i.e. as persecution. Persecutory anxiety therefore enters from the beginning into his relation to objects in so far as he is exposed to privations." [p.198]

The boundaries of Kleinian material become clearer. The origin, the 'arche', is put 'at the beginning of post-natal life'. That is the boundary of the unconscious. All which exists prior to that point is held beyond the boundary and its effects are imported across the boundary as fixated phenomena arising from the given, instinctive, original conditions of being. This basic position is sustained throughout Klein's writing, albeit with certain tell tale slips and lapses. Parallels between these opening sentences and the Johannine prologue are quite marked. One can almost rewrite it:

"In the beginning is angst and the angst was with being. Indeed, the angst was being, for it was there at the beginning. All psychic phenomena emerge from the primal experience of angst. It is the foundation for subsequent psychic phenomena, without it there is no psychic life. Angst is the seed of the life of man, for it is the transaction between light and darkness, life and death. The Life Instinct shines in the darkness, and is persecuted by it, albeit not overcome:"

Melanie Klein has her religion, but it immediately raises all the questions about the pre- existence of angst, the origin of the life instinct and the death instinct, the meaning of 'instinct' itself, etc. These difficult issues are solved by the single mechanism of excluding them beyond the boundaries of life (i.e. post-natal life). So religion arises after the fall as an attempt to mediate between life and death. There are mythical echoes of the lost primal state, the fall and the attacker (the persecutor) which presumably precipitated the fall. It is this primal myth which provides the foundation for the subsequent Kleinian construct. It is a construct of after-birth. It relates to life after the fall and it avoids dealing with primal angst by adopting a pseudo-origin as its starting point. The Eden reaching from conception to birth is treated as some shadowy pre-existent state which was before the Beginning. This irrational leap is already clear in the linguistic shift from the phrase, 'at the beginning of post-natal life', used at the start of the paragraph, to the phrase 'from the beginning' used of the same point at the end of the same paragraph.

Concerning the 'primary cause of persecutory anxiety' a tautological definition is employed. Persecutory anxiety stems from the fear of annihilation generated by the operation of the death instinct on the life instinct. The problem of the causal origin of the perceived effect, anxiety, is answered by the promulgation of an uncaused cause, namely, the death instinct. This uncaused cause is given, and the very use of the word 'instinct' indicates that exploration into its origin and cause is taboo. How ever in the next sentence Melanie Klein hovers on the brink of breakthrough into primal analysis. She cannot quite articulate the question, 'What gives rise to the death instinct?' yet that question is unconsciously present between the lines. She seeks to answer it in the phrase, 'The first external source of anxiety can be found in the experience of birth', that experience which Freud designates as the archetype of all later experience of angst and influential on all subsequent self/environment transactions.

Klein notes the primal persecution of birth trauma both in terms of impingement by the constricting and attacking environment, and also the primal loss of the intra-uterine world which this impingement signals. However, since the experience of birth lies before the beginning, any such traces in the unconscious are carried forward across the boundary of the construct with the triumphant note, 'Persecutory anxiety therefore enters from the beginning'.... The foundation is established, angst is archetypal, it is primordial, part of the data for all subsequent manipulation. Further investigation of the material is barred in two ways, firstly, by an appeal to Freud, and secondly by projection.

Klein refers to Freud in the footnote:

"In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926) page 109, Freud states that 'There is much more continuity between intrauterine life and the earliest infancy than the impressive caesura of the act of birth allows us to believe'." [p.198 - Footnote 3]

Here the father-figure of psychoanalysis, writing before his split with Otto Rank, indicates the fundamental continuity between the intra-uterine and post-natal experiential worlds, and by implication, puts the origin or boundary of psychoanalysis prior to birth and presumably therefore at conception, or at some indefinable point of foetal development. However, on Freud's own admission, belief in such continuity is disallowed, rendered taboo, by the caesura or splitting, of the process of birth itself. The discontinuity effectively re- established itself within the Freudian construct and passed into the foundation of the Kleinian construct at this point. Any attempt to raise to consciousness this fundamental continuity is experienced as the ultimate impiety and leads ultimately to the death of the gods. The primal unconscious is the last abode of metaphysics. a stronghold whose penetration is forbidden.

Not only is the approach to the primal origin of anxiety rendered taboo by appeal to the father-figure of psychoanalysis, but any reason or motivation for such approach is then elided by the projection backwards into the primal situation of precisely those mechanisms generated by it, and received as operative and given at the start of post-natal existence. This aetiological myth within the Kleinian construct is again relegated to a footnote - (I suspect that Melanie Klein's footnotes mark her boundary of articulate consciousness, the primal Kleinian unconscious lies unexamined below the footnotes).

"I have suggested that the struggle between the life and death instincts already enters into the painful experience of birth and adds to the persecutory anxiety aroused by it. Cf. Chapter 8 ." [p.199 Footnote 1]

In Chapter 8 itself, Melanie Klein writes:

"I suggest that the primary danger-situation arising from the activity of the death instinct within is felt by (the infant) as an overwhelming attack, as persecution.....We may assume that the struggle between life and death instincts already operates during birth and accentuates the persecutory anxiety aroused by this painful experience....." [p.278]

So the primal source of anxiety is attributed to the activity of the death instinct impinging upon the life instinct. Out of these two uncaused causes angst itself becomes an eternal quality of being, and the splits of the post-natal infantile unconscious are projected backwards. It is this mechanism which ultimately gives rise to the splitting of Weltanschauung into Heaven and Hell. Causal analysis of religious systems is taboo, so in this collusional impasse, Melanie Klein avoids facing the ultimate threat to her and her world posed by the analysis of primal angst.

Now that the origin has been defended from examination by tautological definition, by appeal to the founding father, and by aetiological projection, the rest of her construct follows. The assumptions or axioms generated by the boundary conditions of the construct are now named:

"The hypothesis that the infant's first experiences of feeding and of his mother's presence initiate an object-relation to her is one of the basic concepts put forward in this book. This relation is at first a relation to a part-object, for both oral libidinal and oral destructive impulses from the beginning of life are directed towards the mother's breast in particular. We assume that there is always an interaction, although in varying proportions, between libidinal and aggressive impulses, corresponding to the fusion between life and death instincts.... In those children in whom the innate aggressive component is strong, persecutory anxiety, frustration and greed are easily aroused and this contributes to the infant's difficulty in tolerating privation and in dealing with anxiety." [p.199]

With life limited by the post-natal field, the original data for psychological development is provided by the relationship between the new-born infant and the mother, both in terms of the provision of a holding environment (cf. Winnicott), and also the provision of sustenance through the experience of suckling. To this foundational experience are brought the instinctive drives of life and death, libido and aggression. The intensity of splitting and the relational balance between the two instincts is subject to a wide variation, which should have provided Melanie Klein with clues as to their psychic, as opposed to genetic, origin. However, since the point of splitting between life and death, and the origin of the mechanisms of idealisation, denial, introjection and projection lies beyond the boundary of her construct, so inevitably, the Kleinian analyst finds the road into the primal unconscious blocked by definition. The paranoid-schizoid mechanisms are not accessible to analysis nor open to modification within the Kleinian system. The goal of maturation and the process of integration have as their object the management, control and suppression of the primitive paranoid-schizoid mechanisms which are perceived as an innate and unalterable datum of the human psyche.

Only if the primal field of environmental relations (as distinct from the post-natal field of object-relations) is allowed within the construct can these primitive mechanisms be analysed and modified. Since, however, the mechanisms themselves are 'normal' there is no sanction within the field of psychoanalysis or psychotherapy for such intervention and modification. The skills of the analyst (consistently with the history of development of the field with its roots in the treatment of abnormality) are brought to bear only in situations of deviation from the norm. The task of the analyst in such situations is to enable recovery of the capacity for control of primal anxiety, or in other words a strengthening of the defences which protect the paranoid-schizoid mechanisms from breaking down. As such, psychoanalysis, in concert with religious systems, stands firmly in the counter-developmental tradition. Its task is the preservation of social norms and the reinforcement of societal anxiety defence systems, how ever damaged and psychotic the 'norm' position may be. Put crudely, the analyst's task is to render the very mad a little less mad, so that the normally mad can carry on, undisturbed. Normative societal anxiety defences generate persecution either of the abnormally insane or of the abnormally integrated, both threaten to modify the repression systems which hold in check common unconscious content.

I would now argue that the split between libidinal and aggressive drives, (the idealisation of the environment into a totally good or totally persecutory world with its concomitant introjection, splitting the self into good and bad, together with the process of rendering the intolerab1e persecutory environment/self impotent by repression, denial, or projection) originates within the intra-uterine phase of life and is fixated in the process of birth. The intensity of splitting and the balance between the libidinal and aggressive impulses (life and death instincts) is determined by the intensity of intra-uterine and perinatal impingement. This primal experience forms the foundation or datum line which is brought to bear in the post-natal condition on the primary object-relation, namely with the breast.

It is now clear that such primal experience is open, both to analysis and to active abreaction with consequent modification of the paranoid-schizoid (psychotic) mechanisms both at individual and societal levels.

Resistance to such insight is, however, massive for it is blocked by the trace of primal persecution and threats to being (the primal danger situation) together with the fixated loss of the intra-uterine condition. These dominant human dynamics underlie the boundary management myths and religious rituals of everyman, who uses such societal defences as a protection against re-emergence of primal angst. It would seem that access to primal material, together with the processes of abreaction and modification of paranoid-schizoid mechanisms, emerge only in those conditions in which survival is threatened by high levels of environmental stress. Such highly stressed situations trigger abreaction of primal material (set off psychotic episodes) and lead to a deeper level of integration of the psyche and an enhanced capacity to inter-relate with a demanding environment. There are indications that environmental stress is moving toward this kind of condition at a global level and in so far as that is true, just so far is the present time ripe for that courageous pressing back of the frontiers of the analytic construct beyond the post-natal into the perinatal and the intra-uterine phases of existence.

Such a process, however, will challenge the constructs of all human systems, religious, social, political, philosophical and scientific. In so far as the paranoid-schizoid mechanisms yield to primal analysis, just so far will the paranoid-schizoid defences against anxiety employed in social systems, and evidenced particularly in political relatedness at every level of humanity, albeit sustained by religious collusional networks, undergo massive modification. Resistance to such change is likely to be most violent in the conservative, heartland of the world religions and ideologies.

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Having defined her boundaries and outlined the assumptions carried across from those boundary conditions, Melanie Klein proceeds with her main task of the analysis and explication of infantile behaviour in the post-natal field.

"The recurrent experiences of gratification and frustration are powerful stimuli for libidinal and destructive impulses, for love and hatred. As a result, the breast, inasmuch as it is gratifying, is loved and felt to be "good'; in so far as it is a source of frustration it is hated and felt to be "bad". This strong antithesis between the good breast and the bad breast is largely due to lack of integration of the ego, as well as to splitting processes within the ego and in relation to the object." [p.199]

So the primal object, the breast, is subject to a process of idealisation in which the good experiences associate with each other and are then dissociated from the bad experiences which also associate together. These idealised good and idealised bad phenomena lead to the splitting of the object itself into good and bad through the application of the primal mechanisms of introjection and projection, idealisation and splitting, which originated in relation to the primal environment (womb) and are now applied to the primal object (breast). Melanie Klein recognises the process, albeit not the source in her next paragraph:

"In addition to the experiences of gratification and frustration derived from external factors, a variety of endopsychic processes - primarily introjection and projection - contribute to the twofold relation to the first object. The infant projects his love impulses and attributes the m to the gratifying (good) breast, just as he projects his destructive impulses outwards and attributes them to the frustrating (bad) breast. Simultaneously, by introjection, a good breast and a bad breast are established inside. Thus the picture of the object, external and internalized, is distorted in the infant's mind by his phantasies, which are bound up with the projection of his impulses onto the object. The good breast - external and internal - becomes the prototype of all helpful and gratifying objects, the bad breast the prototype of all external and internal persecutory objects." [p.200]

The intra-uterine and perinatal traumata generate the so-called 'instinctive' drives in relation to the primal environment. All subsequent experience of environment and part-environment is interpreted by the grid generated by the primal mechanisms. The idealisation and splitting of the breast into good and bad therefore represents a projection of primal splitting onto the first post-natal object. Within the post-natal field, the primal object is the prototype of all subsequent object relations, within the unified field, the primal environment provides the prototype for all subsequent boundary transactions. In a nutshell the good womb becomes the prototype of heaven, and the bad womb the prototype of hell. Conversely the universal splitting of reality into good and bad, light and darkness, Ying and Yang, thesis and antithesis, together with the interpretation of social and political process as the struggle of opposing forces, are projections into the Weltanschauung of primitive anxiety defences generated by primal trauma.

Melanie Klein has inserted an important footnote at this point, namely:

"These first introjected objects form the core of the super-ego. In my view the super-ego starts with the earliest introjection processes and builds itself up from the good and bad figures which are internalised in love and hatred in various stages of development and then gradually assimilated and integrated by the ego." [p.200 Footnote 1]

Within the post-natal field, this is accurate. However, the core of the super-ego derives from the primal field around which the object-relations of the post-natal period are assembled. I would concur with Melanie Klein's view that the super-ego starts with the earliest introjection processes... but wish to affirm that the earliest introjection process is not that of the relationship to the breast but the relationship to the intra-uterine boundary - the containing womb. The relationship to the breast as the first post-natal object comes rather late on the scene. Its process is already largely determined by the intra-uterine and perinatal development.

Examining the implications of the infant's relation to the bad breast for the development of paranoid phantasy, Melanie Klein writes,

"The hated breast has acquired the oral destructive qualities of the infant's own impulses when he is in states of frustration and hatred. In his destructive phantasies he bites and tears up the breast, devours it, annihilates it; and he feels that the breast will attack him in the same way. As urethral and anal sadistic impulses gain in strength, the infant in his mind attacks the breast with poisonous urine and explosive faeces, and therefore expects it to be poisonous and explosive towards him. The details of his sadistic phantasies determine the content of his fear of internal and external persecutors, primarily of the retaliating (bad) breast." [p.201]

Paranoid phantasies therefore arise in relation to the persecuting, idealised bad breast, whether projected or introjected, i.e., external or internal. Two points must be raised at this stage. Firstly, just as paranoia represents the relation to persecutory (phantasy) objects and is therefore a reaction to the idealised bad object, so its antithesis (for which we use the word 'worship') represents the relation to the idealised (phantasy) good object which is the mythical source of succour, the unfailing support. However, such religious phantasies appear to be an acceptable distortion (idealisation) of reality, whereas the paranoid phantasies are perceived as a non-acceptable distortion (idealisation) of reality. It is clear that functional religion (cf. Bruce Reed 'Dynamics of Religion' 1979) represents the mirror of sustained paranoid phantasy.

Secondly, the paranoid phantasies associated with the part-object relationship to the bad breast are mild and secondary when compared to the paranoid phantasies generated by relationship with the bad (idealised) primal environment. In relation to the breast the rage is oral sadistic, in relation to the womb the rage is cosmic-anarchic. This cosmic-anarchic rage forms the core of the destructive-aggressive impulses described in the Freudian/Kleinian construct as the death instinct. In so far as the cosmic-anarchic impulse is directed outwards, it seeks to destroy the persecutory world. In so far as it is directed inwards (toward the internalised bad idealised womb) it is self-annihilatory. The ambivalence between the internal and external persecutory environment underlies the oscillation between anarchic and suicidal impulses.

Conversely, the idealised good womb provides the (phantasy) ground for myths of cosmic dependency (cf. The - idealised good - Ground of Being central to the theology of Paul Tillich). Nietszche and Tillich represent the two sides of the primal split. Nihilistic anarchy and functional religion are mutually sustaining mirror-systems.

The fundamental collusion of the Kleinian construct with the paranoid-schizoid mechanisms emerges in the next paragraph.

"Persecutory anxiety is to some extent counteracted by the infant's relation to the good breast. I have indicated above that although his feelings focus on the feeding relationship with the mother, represented by her breast other aspects of the mother enter already into the earliest relation to her; for even the very young infant responds to his mother's smile, her hands, her voice, her holding him and attending to his needs. The gratification and love which the infant experiences in these situations all help to counteract persecutory anxiety, even the feelings of loss and persecution aroused by the experience of birth. His physical nearness to his mother during feeding - essentially his relation to the good breast recurrently helps him to overcome the longing for a former lost state, alleviates persecutory anxiety and increases the trust in the good object." [p.201]

It would seem that conversion occurs at a very early age, so perhaps the sacrament of infant baptism which ritualises the process, is an appropriate recognition, a symbolic reification and fixation of the relationship to the good primal object, as a defence against the persecution generated in relationship to the bad primal object.

In collusion with religious systems, Melanie Klein sees the reinforcing of dependence on the good idealised object, together with effective repression and denial of the bad primal object to be the fundamental process of 'integration'. She recognises that dependency on the good primal object is utilised to suppress the persecutory anxiety generated in the perinatal impingement as well as to repress, (i.e. to render inaccessible within the primal core of the unconscious) the overwhelming sense of loss of the intra-uterine state.

At this point it becomes lucidly clear that Kleinian analysis and functional religion have a congruent construct, the effect of which is to sustain paranoid-schizoid anxiety defences as normative both individually and socially.

Turning now to the characteristics of the emotions of the very young infant which are described as 'extreme' and 'powerful', attention is first paid to the process of idealisation (N.B. counter to common usage an ideal may be either good or bad, although the tendency to stress the dominance of good ideals and to suppress the existence and effects of bad ideals emerges within the Kleinian construct as within common linguistic usage).

"The frustrating (bad) object is felt to be a terrifying persecutor, the good breast tends to turn into the 'ideal' breast which should fulfil the greedy desire for unlimited, immediate and everlasting gratification. Thus feelings arise about a perfect and inexhaustible breast, always available, always gratifying. Another factor which makes for idealization of the good breast is the strength of the infant's persecutory fear, which creates the need to be protected from persecutors and therefore goes to increase the power of an all gratifying object. The idealized breast forms the corollary of the persecuting breast; and in so far as idealization is derived from the need to be protected from persecuting objects, it is a method of defence against anxiety." [p.202]

The Jekyll and Hyde character of experienced reality stems from this process of idealisation. When the object is good it is very, very good. When it is bad it is horrid. All bad data is purged out of the good object and vice versa - all good data and experience is removed from the bad object. The process of mirror purification leads to the generation of antithetical poles which relate to reality in the same way that thesis and antithesis relate to synthesis, except that movement is in the opposite direction. Idealisation is the process by which splitting of reality obtains. It is important to note that each side of the split is equally removed from reality. It is also important to note at this point that within the Kleinian construct integration represents the denial and repression of the bad ideal and the strengthening of the good ideal, a mechanism of anxiety defence which is wrongly labelled 'integration' and is far removed from the process of reality-orientation.

Melanie Klein's tendency to affirm the idealised good and deny the idealised bad can be observed in this section. I submit that the strength of the infant's persecutory fear (i.e. death instinct.... or the trace of primal impingement) strengthens the process of idealisation or splitting as a defence against primal anxiety. Such a strengthening of the idealisation process leads to a heightened idealisation of both good and bad primal objects, not simply a heightened idealisation of the good breast. The level of experienced primal angst determines the depth of splitting and the force of repression and denial. In so far as refuge is sought within the good idealised object,. in flight from the persecution seen as stemming from the bad idealised object, just so far is the mechanism of projected denial or repression brought into play. This secondary mechanism must not be confused with an imbalance in the strength of idealisation across the split.

"The instance of hallucinatory gratification may help us to understand the ways in which the process of idealization comes about. In this state, frustration and anxiety derived from various sources are done away with, the lost external breast is regained and the feeling of having the ideal breast inside (possessing it) is reactivated. We may also assume that the infant hallucinates the longed-for pre-natal state. Because the hallucinated breast is inexhaustible, greed is momentarily satisfied. (But sooner or later, the feeling of hunger turns the child back to the external world and then frustration, with all the emotions to which it gives rise, is again experienced.)" [p.202]

Hallucinatory gratification therefore represents a defence against the anxiety generated by the loss of the external breast, it is not a response to the experience of hunger. The mirror to the process of hallucinatory gratification is that of hallucinatory persecution. Here the lost external breast is also regained and the feeling of having the ideal (bad) breast inside is reactivated. It is interesting to note that Melanie Klein uses the phrase 'ideal breast' as a cipher for the ideal good breast. There is a consistent confusion generated by her use of the term 'idealization' referring to both bad and good objects followed by a consistent application of the word 'ideal' only to good objects.

The assumption that the infant hallucinates the longed for pre-natal state also makes the secondary assumption that the hallucinated pre-natal state is idealised good. It would be equally proper to make the assumption that the infant also hallucinates the dreaded idealised bad pre-natal state or perinatal impingement. However, all such clues as to primal trace are left hanging in mid-air. The obvious application of displacement from womb to breast is simply not made. Such an association would, of course, require the capacity to handle primal persecution (perinatal impingement) and primal loss. The repressed emotion associated with both of these aspects appears to be the barrier which prevents their active examination within the Kleinian field.

The difference between the lost breast and the lost womb lies in the temporary nature of the first loss compared to the permanent position of the second loss. Thus while hallucinatory gratification or dread generated by the lost breast is continually off-set by the experience of the real breast in the act of suckling, the hallucinatory gratification or dread of the lost primal environment, (pre-natal state) with its umbilical support system obviating the necessity for feeding, is not re-encountered. It remains therefore in the hallucinatory phase deep within the unconscious from which, by projection and transference, it affects the whole of self/environmental transactions, setting off the eternal search for paradise lost and the eternal flight from hell. The idealised good primal environment and the idealised bad persecutory environment are sustained in the unconscious by the repressed birth trauma experience, in the absence of abreaction of which, they exercise their unmitigated function at the primitive levels of adult intra and interpersonal life.

The further mechanisms of splitting and denial follow on closely:

"In wish-fulfilling hallucinations a number of fundamental mechanisms and defences come into play. One of them is the omnipotent control of the internal and external object, for the ego assumes complete possession of both the external and internal breast. Furthermore, in hallucination the persecuting breast is kept widely apart from the ideal breast, and the experience of being frustrated from the experience of being gratified. It seems that such a cleavage, which amounts to a splitting of the object and the feelings towards it, is linked with the process of denia1. Denial in its most extreme form - as we find it in hallucinatory gratification - amounts to an annihilation of any frustrating object or situation, and is thus bound up with the strong feeling of omnipotence which obtains in the early stages of life. The situation of being frustrated, the object which causes it, the bad feelings to which the frustration gives rise (as well as split-off parts of the ego) are felt to have gone out of existence, to have been annihilated, and by these means gratification and relief from persecutory anxiety are obtained. Annihilation of the persecutory object and of a persecutory situation is bound up with omnipotent control of the object in its most extreme form." [p.202]

Melanie Klein's usage now seems to have settled down. The idealised bad object is designated 'persecuting', the idealised good object is called 'ideal'. The usage is unfortunate and confusing and reflects Melanie Klein's inability to deal with the idealised bad object on a par with the idealised good. It is therefore a measure of the strength of her own denial mechanisms by which the idealised good object becomes dominant over the idealised bad.

Conversely, the process of denial is seen as referring supremely to the denial of the bad or persecutory elements and its application to the denial of idealised good objects is inadequate. I take it that the process of denial is precisely the process of repression, the action of which makes it seem as if that which is denied, i.e. repressed, has disappeared completely, or in other words, has been annihilated. In particular the persecuting (idealised bad) perinatal environment is subject to denial within the Kleinian construct, and by this means gratification and relief from persecutory anxiety are obtained with respect to the primal field.

In a brief but extremely important section, denial of the idealised good is raised:

"It would appear that the early ego also employs the mechanisms of annihilation of one split-off aspect of the object and situation in states other than wish-fulfilling hallucinations. For instance, in hallucinations of persecution, the frightening aspect of the object and situation seems to prevail to such an extent that the good aspect is felt to have been utterly destroyed - a process which I cannot discuss here. It seems that the extent to which the ego keeps the two aspects apart varies considerably in different states and on this may depend whether or not the aspect which is denied is felt to have gone completely out of existence." [p.203]

The antithesis of wish-fulfilment is dread-fulfilment. The denial of the bad idealised object allows hallucinatory wish-fulfilment in relation to the good idealised object, generating a state of euphoria. The denial of the good idealised object allows hallucinatory dread-fulfilment in relation to the idealised bad object, generating a state of paranoia. Paranoid dread-fulfilment and euphoric wish-fulfilment both represent states of primitive hallucination. Both represent relationships to idealised elements, good or bad. Neither must be confused with reality-orientation.

Discussion of the process of denial of the good is apparently served with a 'D' notice - 'a process which I cannot discuss here'. It would appear that the anxieties generated by the idealised persecutory environment or object were such that examination of the material in the absence of the (denied) good idealised environment or object was intolerable. This 'cannot' represents the frontier of the Kleinian construct, the boundary of permissible analysis, the lid to the Pandora's box of the primal and perinatal field.

Melanie Klein now turns her attention to the process of integration. Unfortunately, the imbalance between the idealised good and bad elements already noted provides the foundation for this section which is therefore also distorted by the same bias.

"We may assume that when persecutory anxiety is less strong, splitting is less far-reaching and the ego is therefore able to integrate itself and to synthesize in some measure the feelings towards the object. It might well be that any such step in integration can only come about if, at that moment, love towards the object predominates over the destructive impulses (ultimately the life instinct over the death instinct). The ego's tendency to integrate itself can, therefore, I think, be considered as an expression of the life instinct." [p.203]

The stress level generated by primal persecution determines the depth of splitting and the energy vested in denial. If the primal impingement is comparatively mild, splitting is less far reaching, denial is less heavily enforced and the ego is therefore more able to integrate itself and to synthesise its feelings towards reality.

In the absence of access to such primal understanding, Melanie Klein is unable to develop a consistent construct of integration. Diminution in the experience of persecutory anxiety associated with a given object can originate in two ways. Firstly, it may stem from a low level of primal impingement and therefore a weak idealisation process. Secondly, it may stem from the strength of the denial of the idealised bad persecutory elements of the primal environment. Thus diminution of persecutory anxiety for a given human being (with an historical and therefore fixed level of primal impingement) represents increased effectiveness of the denial mechanism not a diminution in splitting. Experiential reinforcement of the idealised good primal object strengthens the denial of the idealised bad and therefore represses primal anxiety, so lowering the sense of persecution and damping the ambivalence experienced. It is this process of reinforced denial of the bad (and the concomitant reification of the idealised good) which lies at the heart of Melanie Klein's understanding of 'integration'. Far from being integrational, such a process represents the fixation of the mechanisms of introjection, projection, idealisation and denial. It seeks to synthesise being around the core of hallucinatory gratification associated with the internalised, idealised, good, primal environment. Although more socially acceptable as a stance this is equally as psychotic as the unacceptable Weltanschauung which represents reification of the introjected, idealised, bad, primal environment and denial of its good counterpart. Religious euphoria and paranoid dread are a polar pair. In so far as integration is defined as the validation of one side of the primal split just so far is its counterpart held in the unconscious, from whence it dominates psychic life. Libido invested in the maintenance of the paranoid-schizoid mechanisms of idealisation and denial required to sustain this position of so-cal1ed 'integration' detracts massively from the human potential for creativity and reality orientation at intrapersonal, interpersonal and social/environmental levels.

Melanie Klein's hypothesis that life instinct dominates over the death instinct is therefore incorrect. The life instinct and death instinct are equal and opposite drives associated with the two sides of the primal split. The experiential balance between these sides is a function of the denial of one or other element. Confusion at this point can be traced back to the work of Freud and in particular to his identification of libido with the life instinct. In order to clarify matters, I wish now to introduce a third concept, alongside the life and death instincts, namely the 'survival drive' of the human organism. I make the hypothesis that the survival drive of the organism seeks to gain resources from the environment and to fend off threats from the environment in order to further its purpose, namely organic growth and replication. If, within the pursuit of this survival activity, environmental impingement is experienced which threatens the being of the organism in some way, anxiety is generated. In so far as that anxiety is intolerable, defences against the experience of angst are brought into play, namely the processes of idealisation, (splitting) and denial. The splitting of the environment and of the self into idealised good and idealised bad elements therefore represents a defence against the anxiety generated by environmental impingement which threatens survival of the organism. Emotional investment in association with the idealised good environment emerges within the Freudian construct as the 'life instinct'; investment in the idealised bad environment emerges as the 'death instinct'.

We thus perceive the unified core of the human organism operating with its survival drive and engaging in authentic boundary transactions with its environment (introjection and projection). On either side of this central, integrated position are the split, idealised elements of the environment, good and bad. The investment of energy in the process of splitting and denial leads to, and is a measure of, the dysfunctional or inauthentic interaction between the organism and its environment.

Integration can now be seen not as the reification of one side of primal splitting but as the reduction of energy invested in splitting, the recovery from the process of denial and the reinvestment of libido within the reality-oriented survival drive which enables the organism to relate authentically with its environment.

It is clear that Melanie Klein's assertion that the tendency to integrate can be considered an expression of the life instinct is incorrect. The implications of that error are massive. For it not only colludes with and validates paranoid-schizoid mechanisms at the heart of the human psyche but promulgates a programme of therapy and social education which intensifies paranoid-schizoid dynamics at the expense of human integration and at the expense of functional relationship between man and his environment. The Kleinian construct begets a brittle system which becomes progressively dysfunctional as stress increases. Recovery from this psychotic position within psychoanalysis is urgent.