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Kite, J.V. (1993). Projective and Introjective Identification and the Use of the Therapist's Self: By Jill Savege Scharff. New Jersey and London: Jason Aronson. 1993. Pp. 340.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:1301-1302.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:1301-1302

Projective and Introjective Identification and the Use of the Therapist's Self: By Jill Savege Scharff. New Jersey and London: Jason Aronson. 1993. Pp. 340.

Review by:
Jane V. Kite

Starting with Melanie Klein, theories of projective identification and the related concepts of introjection, incorporation, and identification have had an essential but elusive place in psychoanalytic thinking and clinical practice. Typically, these concepts have been applied almost exclusively to the patient. Jill Scharff's stated aim in this book is to demystify projective and introjective processes in general, and in particular to elucidate their role in the therapist's countertransference. She seeks to clarify the operation of empathy and intuition in the therapist's clinical reasoning, building a theory of therapeutic action that rests on unconscious introjective and projective identificatory processes in the mind of the therapist/analyst. This is a fascinating but tall order, which I believe Dr Scharff fulfils only in part.

The most successful aspect of the book is a superb review of the literature on projective identification, including a lucid tour through the confusions and reversals in definitions and terminology since (and including) Klein. Unlike other authors on the subject, Scharff lauds the excessive conceptual play in the uses of projection and projective identification as essential to the on-going creative potential in a theoretically and clinically useful but essentially ambiguous idea. In going on to develop her argument for the role of projection and introjection in the countertransference, Scharff makes an argument for projective identification as a 'two-body' (intersubjective) phenomenon, adding the comparatively forgotten concept of introjective identification as the bridge to the therapist's countertransference response.

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