Melanie Klein Mourning and Manic-Depressive States

Summary on Melanie Klein’s article Mourning and its relation to Manic Depressive states
The child in the depressive positions goes through the dynamics of mourning, thus when the adult later on in life goes into mourning over the loss of a real object, it will reawaken the early organization of the first childhood mourning process.
The mourning of depressive position begins before, during, and after the weaning. The lost object that is being mourned is the good breast. The loss is also coupled with the child own sadistic aggression that becomes projected outward onto and into the mother and is perceived as she wants to destroy the good breast thus the child feels that he may lose the nurturing good mothering breast due to the bad mother. Because at this position the baby recognizes the mother as a whole with components of good and bad the child fears the bad will disintegrate and over power the good breast and he will be left without a good breast. The good and bad breast becomes internalized as internal objects within the infant as reflections of the external real mother. The objects within the child reflect the external mother and if the external are lost so will the internal become annihilated. They’re perceived as just a ‘double ‘of the external with no intrinsic existence. So when there is fear and anxiety over the loss of the external good mother-breast there is a fear that the internalized goodness with also get lost. Thus the relationship between the baby and the real mother is utmost important for how the baby will forms the internalized mother. If the real mother is kind and nurturing and ‘good enough’ the internalized mother will mirror those characteristics, which will give the baby a sense of goodness and protection. The more nurturing the mother is the more it confirms the healthy and good enough child that doesn’t need to worry about persecution when the ambivalence in the depression position arrives. The ambivalence that arrives in the depressive position is due to the recognition of wholeness and separateness of the mother. The wholeness of the mother is what creates the ambivalence, because the good and bad begin to overlap and the good can become bad becomes of its close proximity and unity. Therefore when the good is firm the child can survive the intermingling of the good and bad parts.
The anxiety in the depressive position is twofold one the fear of the persecution of the good internal and external objects. Two the child fears that without the good object it will annihilate and thus there is a constant longing and ‘pining’ for the good objects which creates an addition and exasperation of the anxiety.
The way the child deals with these anxiety and fear of persecution and fear of longing is through the manic and obsessional defenses. The mania creates and omnipotent belief which allows the denial of the persecution to take place, as if he can control the bad and good and keep them separated and ‘split’ the way they have been in the past. The mania has the component of control and omnipotence, which gives the child the strength to go through the stage an allowing the integration to happen without full awareness. The mania gives the good object totality which can be seen as idealization because it has the power to separate and distance the bad and persecutory. In other words the mania created a semi regression which gives an illusion of separation of good and bad as in the paranoid position.

In addition the bad persecutory is directed towards the external and projected and internalized and thus fears that the persecution will take place internally.


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