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Hárnik, J. (1932). Introjection and Projection in the Mechanism of Depression. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 13:425-432.

(1932). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 13:425-432

Introjection and Projection in the Mechanism of Depression

J. Hárnik

According to Freud and Abraham, it is characteristic of the process preceding a depression that the ego takes back into its possession an object which for certain reasons had become valueless and had to be discarded. The mechanism of introjection, which we think of as a kind of incorporation, is here used in order to enable the object to be re-established in the ego. As regards the process of devaluation, Abraham shewed further that the object, after being in phantasy transformed into a corpse, i.e. killed, is identified with fæces. Thus the necrophagy underlying incorporation is based upon the identify of corpse and excrement in the unconscious. Hence it followed almost as a matter of course that the transformation into a fæces-corpse, which corresponds to the killing of the object, must have been modelled on the physiological act of defæcation and was to be interpreted as an anal expulsion of the devalued object.

As a result of my own investigations, I believe the following slight but important correction of this interpretation to be necessary. It seems to me that in depression-formation the expulsion of the object prior to introjection regularly occurs orally, and that in this process reflex vomiting (in a certain sense a pathological occurrence) serves as the physical prototype. Postponing a theoretical discussion of this assumption for the moment, I will try to illustrate it by a clinical example.

The case in question, which I will describe as far as is necessary, is not one of melancholia in the psychiatric sense, but rather of a very bad attack of so-called neurotic depression.

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