The Psychogenesis of the Self and the Emergence of Ethical Relatedness: Klein in Light of Merleau-Ponty

This paper presents a theory of the emergence of ethical relatedness, which is developed through a synthetic reading of the developmental theories of Melanie Klein and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Klein's theory of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions are found to roughly parallel Merleau-Ponty's distinction between the "lived" and the "symbolic." With the additional contributions of Thomas Ogden and Martin C. Dillon, the theories of Klein and Merleau-Ponty are refined to accommodate the insights of each developmental perspective. Implications of the paper's analysis include: Opportunities to clarify key concepts in object relations theory, including projective identification; insight into the development of self-conscious emotions such as shame, guilt, embarrassment and gratitude; the articulation of a phenomenologically oriented object relations perspective which allows for human agency and therefore genuine altruism and compassion; and, finally, a validation of previous assertions that theory cannot and should not be meaningfully distinguished from ethics. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords ethical relatedness   psychogenesis of self   developmental theories   object relations theory   paranoid-schizoid & depressive positions   Maurice Merleau-Ponty   Melanie Klein   superego   insight
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DOI 10.1037/h0091259
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