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Malin, A. Grotstein, J.S. (1966). Projective Identification in the Therapeutic Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:26-31.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:26-31

Projective Identification in the Therapeutic Process

Arthur Malin and James S. Grotstein

Recent articles by Loewald (1960) and Searles (1963) having to do with certain aspects of the therapeutic process have stimulated us to investigate what we believe may be the basis of the therapeutic effect in psycho-analysis. In our view the concept of projective identification can be fruitfully applied to an understanding of the therapeutic process. We shall attempt to describe the concept of projective identification and then discuss the relevance of this idea to normal and pathological development with a view toward clarifying the therapeutic process in light of it.

The term projective identification was first used by Melanie Klein (1946) and was meant to indicate a process in which parts of the self are split off and projected into an external object or part object. Hanna Segal (1964) states,

Projective identification is the result of the projection of parts of the self into an object. It may result in the object's being perceived as having acquired the characteristics of the projected part of the self, but it can also result in the self becoming identified with the object of its projection.

This idea was developed from Klein's (1932), (1934) earlier concept of object relations existing from the start of extrauterine life. Klein had indicated that the relation to the first object, the breast, is through introjection. She also demonstrated that object relations from the beginning depend for their development on projective and introjective mechanisms. Klein (1946) suggested that these mechanisms are seen in the earliest period of normal development, which she described as the paranoid-schizoid position.

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