Melaine Klein used this term to describe internal and external object relations, anxieties and defences. Often the concept was used to refer to a specific developmental moment in early life but also continuing into childhood and throughout adult life. The paranoid position, in development, precedes the depression position. Note the importance of the use of the term ‘position’; it is used quite deliberately to connote, not a fixed and inexorable ‘stage’, but a recursive movement between mental states and organizations. The most significant mental states described by this concept are splitting of the object and the self into good and bad qualities and projection. Lacking the capacity for integration in early life, the infant uses splitting along with introjection and projection to manage anxieties related to the death instinct, birth, hunger and frustration. In splitting (both the ego and the object), the infant projects, at different times and in different ways, feelings of love and hate. These are then projected into different parts of the mother (e.g. the breast) where the mother is experienced as both bad (i.e. depriving, frustrating, not always available) and good (i.e. gratifying, fulfilling, available). Then the projected parts, good and bad, are introjected. There is a recursive movement of projection and introjection (sometimes called re-introjection) along with the additional defences of omnipotence and idealization.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number