All her life, in spite of the controversies and furore raging around her, Klein thought of her work as following in the footsteps of Freud, as an extension of his work. In my view too, there is a consistent allegiance throughout Klein’s work to what she regarded as the essential spirit of Freud’s approach and technique. But she was an innovator. She regarded the play of a child as the counterpart to the free association of adults. In her play technique Klein was fully prepared to enact many (though not all) of the roles suggested to her by the child in order to arrive at an understanding of the child’s motives and feelings. She was critical in 1927 of Anna Freud for introducing educational elements into child analysis and for emphasizing the positive transference and not interpreting the negative transference (Klein 1927a). Klein’s descriptions of her technique with adults years later in 1943 (King and Steiner 1991: 635-8) and in 1952 (‘The origins of transference’, 1952a) are basically very similar to her technique as she described it in 1927, and she clearly thought that both were closely based on Freud. (Anna Freud, however, thought otherwise; see King and Steiner 1991: 629-34.)

Of crucial importance in Klein’s work is that it began in the study and treatment of children. She was not the first analyst to treat children, having been preceded by Freud and the father of Little Hans and by Hug-Hellmuth; Anna Freud had started analytic work with older children at about the same time as Klein, though along rather different lines. But Klein invented an analytic way of using the technique

of play, which gave even very young children under 3 years of age a suitable medium for expressing their thoughts and feelings, a medium which could easily be combined with their developing capacity to express themselves in words. The invention of this new technique uncovered new data and slowly gave Klein an unshakeable conviction in the reality of the clinical facts she was discovering. In time it led her to new theoretical developments as well: the central importance of unconscious phantasy; the implications of the very aggressive as well as loving phantasies that she found in the play of small children and which she assumed were part of the unconscious of adults as well; the central role of anxiety in both normal and pathological development; the importance of reparation; the idea of internal objects and the internal world; the existence of a very sadistic early superego. Eventually her work with both children and adults led her to conceive of the ideas of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions, both as part of a developmental sequence and, especially in the view of her later colleagues, as states of mind.