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The Psychic Life of Fragments: Splitting from Ferenczi to Klein

Soreanu, Raluca (2018) 'The Psychic Life of Fragments: Splitting from Ferenczi to Klein.' The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 78 (4). pp. 421-444. ISSN 0002-9548

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The present paper starts from the reflection that there is a curious “phenomenological gap” in psychoanalysis when it comes to processes of splitting and to describing the “life” of psychic fragments resulting from processes of splitting. In simpler terms, we are often in a position to lack a precise understanding of what is being split and how the splitting occurs. I argue that although Melanie Klein’s work is often engaged when talking of splitting (particularly through discussions on identification, projection and projective identification), there are some important phenomenological opacities in her construction. I show that by orchestrating a dialogue between Melanie Klein and Sándor Ferenczi, we arrive at a fuller and more substantive conception of psychic splitting and of the psychic life of fragments which are the result of splitting. This is even more meaningful because there are some unacknowledged genealogical connections between Ferenczian concepts and Kleinian concepts, which I here explore. While with Klein we remain in the domain of “good” and “bad” objects—polarised objects which are constantly split and projected—with Ferenczi we are able to also give an account of complicated forms of imitation producing psychic fragments and with a “dark” side of identification, which he calls “identification with the aggressor”. While attempting to take steps toward imagining a dialogue between Klein and Ferenczi, I note a certain silent “Ferenczian turn” in a late text by Melanie Klein, “On the Development of Mental Functioning”, written in 1958. In particular, I reflect on her reference to some “terrifying figures” of the psyche, which cannot be accounted for simply as the persecutory parts of the super-ego but are instead more adequately read as more enigmatic and more primitive psychic fragments, resulting from processes of splitting.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sándor Ferenczi, Melanie Klein, splitting, identification with the aggressor, Orpha, teratoma, terrifying figures
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2020 10:42
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:03

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