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Hamilton, N.G. (1990). The Containing Function and the Analyst's Projective Identification. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:445-453.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:445-453

The Containing Function and the Analyst's Projective Identification

N. Gregory Hamilton


The concept of the container and the contained in psychoanalysis describes a process whereby the patient's projective identifications are internalized by the analyst, transformed, given meaning, and returned to the patient in a useful fashion. In this paper, it is suggested that what the analyst gives back, and what the patient receives, is the analyst's projective identification. The containing function itself can be transmitted to the patient via this mechanism. All interpretation, from whatever theoretical viewpoint, has an element of containing and therefore projective identification on the part of the analyst. Paradoxically, neutrality itself can be considered a vehicle for projective identification. Previously, the role of the therapist's projective identification in the containing process has been implied, but not discussed.

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