Schmideberg-Klein, Melitta (1904-1983)

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Melitta Schmideberg-Klein, physician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, was born on January 17, 1904 in Rosenberg, Slovakia. She died in London on February 10, 1983, at seventy-nine.

Melitta was the oldest child and only daughter of Arthur and Melanie Klein. Before the 1914-1918 war, the family moved to Hungary and Melitta grew up and was educated in Budapest. After the war Arthur Klein moved to Sweden and Melanie Klein moved to Rosenberg, where Melitta matriculated in 1921. She joined her mother in Berlin. Melitta worked for and obtained her MD in 1927 from Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin.

In 1924 she met and married Walter Schmideberg, who was an Austrian psychoanalyst and a friend of Freud, and who had joined the Berlin Society. In 1929 she started her analytic training with Karen Horney at the Berlin Institute, qualifying as an associate member of the Berlin Society in 1931.

In 1927, Melanie Klein moved to London and joined the British Society. In view of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany, the Schmidebergs also moved to London and joined the British Society. Schmideberg-Klein was elected an associate member in 1932 and a full member the next year. She wrote many papers and eventually became a training analyst.

Initially she often made use of her mother's ideas in her papers (1930, 1935). She then went into analysis with Edward Glover in order to deal with her dependence on her mother, whom she hoped would understand. However, following the death of her elder brother Hans in 1934, and her mother's reaction to it, she became increasingly critical of both her mother's contributions and her behavior in the Society, as was her analyst, Glover.

As Melitta increased her criticisms, the atmosphere in scientific meetings worsened. With the arrival of numerous colleagues from Vienna in 1938, the theoretical differences became more obvious, together with the fear that the essentials of psychoanalysis were in danger. When Schmideberg-Klein addressed the "extraordinary business" meetings to discuss these issues, her main contribution was concerned with the effect of Kleinian proselytizing on the conduct of the affairs of the Society, rather than concern about theoretical issues (1942). When Glover resigned from the training committee and from the Society in 1944, Melitta also withdrew from active participation in the Society, and she concentrated on her other interestthe treatment of delinquents.

In 1945 she went to America. There she helped to found the Association for the Psychiatric Treatment of Offenders in New York. After the death of her mother in 1960, she decided to return to Europe. In 1962 she resigned her membership of the British Society, having developed her own form of psychotherapy (1938).

In addition to many scientific papers and reviews, in 1948 she published her book Children in Need (1948). In 1957 she started The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology of which she was managing editor.

She died in 1983, unfortunately unable to make a rapprochement with her family or with other psychoanalysts in the British Society.

Pearl H.M. King

See also: Controversial Discussions; Klein-Reizes, Melanie.


Schmideberg, Melitta. (1930). Psychotic mechanisms in relation to the development of civilisation. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11, 387-418.

. (1935). The psycho-analysis of asocial children and adolescents. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16, 22-48.

. (1938). After the analysis. . . some phantasies of patients. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 7, 122-142.

. (1991). Paper read at the second Extraordinary Business Meeting. In P.H.M. King, R. Steiner (Eds.), The Freud-Klein controversies 1941-1945. London: Institute of PsychoAnalysis-Routledge, p. 92-99. (Original work published 1942)

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Schmideberg-Klein, Melitta (1904-1983)

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