Melanie Klein

Melanie Klein (1882-1960)

Melanie Klein was an Austrian psychoanalyst who devised therapeutic techniques for children that had great impact on present methods of child care and rearing.

Early Years: Family, Education, and Career

Melanie Klein was born in Vienna on March 30, 1882. Her father, Dr. Moriz Reisez, was undoubtedly an inspiration to young Melanie. Rebelling against his strict orthodox Jewish family, Moriz went to medical school rather than becoming a rabbi. His first marriage, which was arranged by his parents, ended shortly after his dependent father died. He remarried, however, when he was over the age of 40. His new wife, Libusa Deutsch, was just 25 at the time. The couple had four children, including Melanie, the youngest. Because Dr. Reisez’s practice was slow and money was needed, Libusa temporarily opened a shop of exotic plants and animals. By the time Melanie was five, however, the family had inherited enough money to buy a dental practice. Moriz was much more successful at his new occupation and the family moved to a bigger apartment. Because of her father’s age and the favoritism that he showed to Melanie’s sister, the two did not share a close relationship. His knowledge of literature and languages, however, impressed her greatly. Moriz died when Melanie was just 18 (Segal, 1979).

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