chapter  7
20 Pages

Projective identifi cation: the analyst’s involvement

In Klein’s original formulation of the mechanism of projective identifi cation she referred to an unconscious phantasy in which the patient expelled what were usually disturbing contents into another object. This object is partially transformed in the patient’s mind as a consequence of the projection, being now possessed of qualities the patient has expelled. In addition to its use as a method of evacuation, Klein suggested that projective identifi cation may fulfi l a variety of other unconscious functions for the patient, such as leading to him believing that he possesses the object, or controls it from within. These projective processes usually alternate with introjective ones. Thus the phantasy of forceful entry into the object by parts of the self in order to possess or control the object creates problems with normal introjection, which the patient may fi nd diffi cult to distinguish from forceful entry from the outside, in retribution for his own violent projections (Klein, 1946, p. 11).