chapter  13
15 Pages

The give and take in projective identifi cation

As Melanie Klein discovered, the infant as well as the adult patient are constantly struggling to fi nd balance within various object relational phantasies of loving, appreciative, and understanding objects as well as greedy, cruel, and unavailable objects. These objects are created through a mix of actual experiences with external fi gures that are then internalized and fi ltered with the ego’s own spectrum of distortions based on confl icts regarding love, hatred, and knowledge. In other words, projections of one’s own desires for love, one’s own cruel superego demands, and the search for answers to one’s endless curiosity about the nature of the object are all shaping and coloring the ego’s experience of the other. So, current Kleinian thinking (Spillius 1992) understands projective identifi cation to play an enormous part in early development as well as the individual’s view of self and other throughout the life cycle. With our more challenging patients, we fi nd they overuse splitting and projective identifi cation to manage, defend, and take pathological control over their object relational world (Daniel 1992).