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The Aesthetic Conflict and the Claustrum: Exploring Donald Meltzer’s Contribution to Psychoanalysis

  • 16 May 2020
  • (CDT)
  • 17 May 2020
  • (CDT)
  • 4 sessions
  • 16 May 2020, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CDT)
  • 16 May 2020, 2:00 PM 4:00 PM (CDT)
  • 17 May 2020, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CDT)
  • 17 May 2020, 2:00 PM 4:00 PM (CDT)
  • TBD


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Malka Hirsch-Napchan

May 16-17, 2020

Malka Hirsch-Napchan is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst at the British Psychoanalytic Society

She works in the public sector and is also in private practice.

She teaches and supervises in London, Israel, Russia, USA , Taiwan

Seminar Title

The Aesthetic Conflict and the Claustrum

 Exploring Donald Meltzer’s contribution to psychoanalysis

Seminar Description

The Aesthetic Conflict and the Claustrum can be considered complementary opposing aspects of the human mind, the first containing creativity and the search for beauty, the latter containing perverse and malignant split off parts. Both are based on Meltzer’s theory of an inner life space: the enigmatic inside or private space of the aesthetic object and the terrifying space of the claustrum. The Aesthetic Conflict is ‘the fire that ignites psychic life and development, and the Claustrum is an unconscious phantasy of the compartmentalised structure of the interior of the internal mother’s body. It constitutes a retreat from and an attack on the aesthetic experience. It is a core phantasy of what is enacted and acted out in internal and external reality, in character pathologies and socio-political structures.

Meltzer (1922-2004) arrived from the USA specifically to be in analysis with Melanie Klein. He became a ground breaking disciple. We will discuss some chapters from The Apprehension of Beauty: The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Art, and Violence (1988) and some from The Claustrum: an Investigation of Claustrophobic Phenomena, (1992) side by side with some chapters from earlier books he wrote. His putting passion at the centre of the psychoanalytic endeavour helped mark the transition from the Freudian-Kleinian view point to the Post-Kleinian epistemology and aesthetics in psychoanalysis.


Part I

The Apprehension of Beauty: the Aesthetic Conflict and the conflict of identifications: their place in the development of sexual states of mind and identity; on aesthetic reciprocity and the combined object

Basic Readings:

Meltzer, D Sexual States of Mind, Ch 11, 12

Meltzer D and Williams M H The Aesthetic Conflict, Ch 1, 2, 4 

Part II

The Claustrum: an Investigation of Claustrophobic Phenomena 1992

The denial of dependence and intrusion into the compartments of the internal mother accompanied by anal masturbation; geographical and zonal confusions and claustrophobic- agoraphobic phenomena; denigration of parental functions; pseudo-maturity; the threshold of the depressive position

Basic Readings 

Meltzer D The Psychoanalytic Process, ch IV

Meltzer D The Claustrum, Ch 2, 3, 4, 5

For an introduction to Meltzer and his expansion of Freud’s metapsychology:

Meltzer D (1981) The Kleinian expansion of Freud’s metapsychology International Journal of Psychoanalysis 62: 117-185 

Also see  Introduction to Meltzer http://www.harris-meltzer-trust.org.uk/index.html

General Bibliography

Bion W R (1962) Learning from Experience

Bion W R (1963) Elements of Psycho-analysis

Bion W R (1970) Attention and Interpretation

Harris Williams M (2010) A Meltzer Reader: Selections from the writings of Donald Meltzer London: Karnac

Harris Williams M (2015) Teaching Meltzer London: Karnac

Klein M (1946) Notes on some schizoid mechanisms In: The Writings of Melanie Klein   Vol. 3, Envy and Gratitude and Other Works. London: The Hogarth Press, 1975 

Meltzer, D 1963 A Contribution to the Metapsychology of cyclothymic states, International J of Psychoanalysis, 44, 83-96

Meltzer D (1973) Sexual States of Mind Perthshire: Clunie Press

Meltzer D Bremner J Hoxter S Waddell, D & Wittenberg I (1975) Explorations in Autism. Perthshire: Clunie Press

Meltzer D & Harris Williams M (1988) The Apprehension of Beauty. Perthshire: Clunie Press

Meltzer D (1992) The Claustrum: an investigation of claustrophobic phenomena. Perthshire: Clunie Press

Meltzer D (2002) Psychoanalytic work with Children and Adults London: Karnac Books

Money-Kyrle R E (1968) Cognitive Development Inter Journal of Psycho-Anal, 49: 691-698, also with later Post script in: Do I dare Disturb the Universe? Ed: Grotstein J, 1981 Money-Kyrle R E (1971) The aim of psychoanalysis Inter Journal of Psycho-Anal., 52:103-107

Money-Kyrle R  E (1979) Looking Backwards- And Forwards Inter R Psycho-Anal., 6:265-272 

Sanders K (2001) Post-Kleinian Psychoanalysis: The Biella Seminars London: Karnac Books

London May 2019

"Nothing human is alien to me"  --Terrence

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