Sandor Rado Lecture • The Quest for Truth as the Foundation of Psychoanalytic Practice: Klein’s Essential Contribution to the Articulation and Grounding of this Freudian Perspective

May 3, 2016
Lecturer: Rachel Blass, PhD, University of London

For Freud the quest for truth lies at the very foundation of psychoanalytic practice. Analytic cure takes place through coming to know psychic truth and aims at being open to reality as it is, both internal and external. This view finds expression throughout Freud’s writings, but its articulation and grounding in these writings remain incomplete. Relying solely on Freud’s concepts and formulations (e.g., regarding transference interpretation) one encounters inherent problems in explaining how increased knowledge of psychic truth could ever bring about change of unconscious inner dynamics and why the person would actively seek to change in this way. This impacts the way Freud’s truth-centred approach is understood and practiced and may in part explain the contemporary interest in developmental and relational alternatives to it. Melanie Klein’s work and especially her ideas on phantasy and the life and death instincts may be seen in this context to offer a response to the problems that Freud’s writings on truth present. Her work clarifies and grounds the Freudian perspective on the quest for truth—why we long for truth and how coming to know it has the power to change who we are in a deep and meaningful way. In this lecture I will elaborate these ideas, highlighting both Klein’s essential contribution to Freud and the value of their shared view of truth for contemporary psychoanalysis.

Rachel Blass, PhD is a member and Training Analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Professor of Psychoanalysis at Heythrop College and Visiting Professor at University of London. She is editor of the “Controversies” section in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She has published over 70 articles on topics including Kleinian thought and practice as well at Freud’s ideas, philosophy and epistemology. Her book, The Meaning of the Dream in Psychoanalysis, was published in 2002.

Learning Objectives: After the lecture, participants should be able to better

  • understand the Freudian worldview in regard to truth and its contemporary relevance;
  • critically reflect on the question of what’s therapeutic about the analytic process;
  • understand Melanie Klein’s contribution to Freudian theory and practice.