The psychoanalytic community that developed British Object Relations Theory was originally comprised of Kleinians (those who held fast to the teachings of Melanie Klein), Freudians (those who held fast to the teachings of Anna Freud), and the Independents (or Middle School, who often drew from both and developed their own theoretical ideas).
Melanie Klein, one of the primary founders of British Object Relations Theory, was born in Vienna, Austria and also lived in Budapest, Hungary and Berlin, Germany before settling in London, England.
Melanie Klein is well known for developing ideas related to the following major concepts in British Object Relations Theory: unconscious phantasy, projective identification, the paranoid schizoid and depressive positions, and the roles of envy and gratitude.
Melanie Klein, along with Freud, advocated for the therapist/analyst to establish a deep respect for the human mind and personality in order to affectively do the work needed.
Transference feelings are a repetition of infantile feelings which have been revived in the therapeutic process because the earliest object relations influence all later relationships.
Klein encouraged the therapist/analyst to work deeply with the negative transferences because they are so closely linked with early sadistic tendencies and the development of a harsh super-ego.
Splitting can be thought of as a defense against mental fragmentation (falling to pieces).
Projection occurs when a person imagines that someone else is experiencing their own split off undesirable feelings or impulses.
Projective identification occurs when a person identifies (feels the feelings) with the impulses being projected (often unconsciously) onto them.
Unconscious phantasy is the primary content of all mental processes.
Unconscious phantasy orders the chaotic mental processes, primal liberal wishes and aggressive impulses.
In unconscious phantasy incompatible ideas coexist without contradiction, negation of any kind does not figure, nor does a structure of temporal order.
The chief characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position is the splitting of both self and object into good and bad, with at first little or no integration between them.
In the depressive position one becomes more object-centered (concerned for the other) allowing room to experience ambivalence (holding together the good and bad) and a growing ability to grieve and tolerate the pain of the loss of the idealized purely good object.
“In 1963 Bion suggested that the two Kleinian positions continue into adult life and are a lifelong feature of psychic functioning.” “He designated such fluctuations as PS D (paranoid-schizoid – depressive), and this has been broadly accepted as the principle which continually governs adult psychical life. A progressive-regressive slide between the two positions has thus been understood to be constantly operating even on the micro-level of everyday psychical experience.”
Together with the urge to split there are forces towards integration as well from the beginning of life.
Integration occurs when hate is mitigated by love and this then renders the destructive impulses less powerful.
The harsher the super-ego, the greater will be loneliness. The harsh super-ego has severe demands which increase destructive and paranoid anxieties and thus splitting and projection.