Module Details

PA901-7-FY-CO: Psychoanalytic Theory

Year: 2017/18
Department: Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Mr Leonardo Nascimento
Teaching Staff: Leonardo Nascimento
Contact details: Senior Student Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873745, Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module comprises a systematic exploration of major developments of psychoanalytic thought following Freud and based mostly in the British object-relations tradition. Students should be prepared with prior knowledge of Freud, from their own background and making use of the Pre-Sessional Course on Basic Freudian Concepts.

Following Freud's innovations, there have been a number of diverging developments, resulting in an array of different schools of thought. This module concentrates on those developments that have taken place in Britain, and are mostly stimulated by the work of Melanie Klein whose work will occupy the early seminars.

Klein was herself influenced by Sandor Ferenczi and Karl Abraham whose works are a development from Freud. Klein was an inspiration to a number of analysts working in Britain, including, Fairbairn, Bowlby and Winnicott, who have constituted the independent tradition in British psychoanalysis. These psychoanalytic thinkers and writers will form the main focus in term 2. The object-relations school has pioneered research into and treatment of primitive states of mind, and the module will conclude with some examination of this contemporary research area. In addition some recognition will be given to developments in other 'schools' of psychoanalysis, which may include ego-psychology and self-psychology in the United States and the Lacanian School in Europe.

The concepts are often complex and they may indeed be personally challenging as well. It is important to teach psychoanalysis in discussion with and between students. In order for the Aims and Learning Outcomes to be achieved students are reminded that they are required to come to seminars fully prepared to participate in the learning process. This means, minimally, having done the essential reading and being prepared and motivated to engage in debate and discussion, and to raise critical questions.

To set the work of Melanie Klein and other British object-relations analysts in relation to Freuds original work and ideas
To present the work of Melanie Klein and the post-Kleinians
To understand leading themes and concepts in psychoanalysis
to become acquainted with the problems involved in trying to compare different analytic and psychoanalytic schools
To introduce basic clinical concepts such as instincts, projection, transference/ counter-transference, containment, projective identification
To introduce show how object-relations thinking has developed out of Freuds work and away from his economic model
To put psychoanalysis forward as a cultural and philosophical endeavour as much as a clinical one

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able:
To demonstrate an understanding of a range of psychoanalytic concepts, and to use them to explore a clinical or non-clinical theme
To discuss and debate the trends and evolution of psychoanalytic thinking, particularly within the British School of Psychoanalysis, with a critical attention to the areas of dispute or difference in orientation
To show an understanding of psychoanalytic thinking and the forms of evidence
To debate some of the issues which have led to divergence between schools of psychoanalysis, and critically to compare theories.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Learning & Teaching Methods:
In most seminars a key classical reading is paired with a more contemporary text, so that the nub of a theoretical issue and the tensions and developments can be more clearly seen. There will be a mixture of more formal lecture-style presentations mixed with seminar-style group participation. Students who are clinicians will be encouraged to bring examples and vignettes from their clinical practice others may bring social, literary or media examples. All students are expected to come prepared having read each week's assignments.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


This module is assessed by one 5000 word essay, on a topic chosen by the student with the approval of the module co-ordinator. OR two x 2500 word essays, details are on the module outline.

Other information

Compulsory for:
MA in Psychoanalytic Studies and MA in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis


  • Reading:
  • Klein, Melanie 1932 Chapter 2, The Psychoanalysis of Children. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 2. London: Hogarth Press
  • Joseph, B. (1985). Transference: The Total Situation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 66:447-454; also in Psychic Change and Psychic Equilibrium, London: Routledge, 156-167.
  • Klein, M. (1952) The origins of transference. In The Writings of Melanie Klein, vol. 3, pp. 48-56
  • Heimann, Paula 1950 On Counter-Transference. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 31:81-84.
  • Aron, Lewis. (1991) The patient's experience of the analyst's subjectivity. Psychoanalytic Dialogues. 1(1): 29-51.
  • Mitchell, S. A. (1995). Interaction in the Kleinian and Interpersonal Traditions. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 31:65
  • Benjamin, J. (1990). An Outline of Intersubjectivity: the development of recognition. Psychoanalytic Psychology., 7S:33-46.
  • Klein, Melanie (1946) Notes on some schizoid mechanisms. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 27: 99-110. Reprinted in The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 3. London: Hogarth Press.
  • Klein, M. (1930) The importance of symbol-formation in the development of the ego, International Journal of Psychoanalysis 11: 24-39. Republished in The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth Press
  • Klein, Melanie (1935) A contribution to the psychogenesis of manic-depressive states, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 16: 145-74. Republished in The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1. London: Hogarth Press.
  • Suggested Reading:
  • Greenberg, J. and Mitchell, S.A. (1983). Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory. Cambridge MASS and London: Harvard University Press.

Further information