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Feldman, M. (1997). Projective Identification: The Analyst's Involvement. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:227-241.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:227-241

Projective Identification: The Analyst's Involvement

Michael Feldman

The author emphasises that what is projected into the analyst is a phantasy of an object relationship that evokes not only thoughts and feelings, but also propensities towards action. From the patient's point of view, the projections represent an attempt to reduce the discrepancy between the phantasy of some archaic object relationship and what the patient experiences in the analytical situation. For the analyst, too, there are impulses to function in ways that lead to a greater correspondence with some needed or desired phantasies. The interaction between the patient's and the analyst's needs may lead to the repetitive enactment of the painful and disturbing kind that is described. It may be very difficult for the analyst to extricate himself (or his patient) from this unproductive situation and recover his capacity for reflective thought, at least for a while. The difficulty is compounded when the projection into the analyst leads to subtle or overt enactments that do not initially disturb the analyst but, on the contrary, constitute a comfortable collusive arrangement, in which the analyst feels his role is congruent with some internal phantasy. It may be difficult to recognise the defensive function this interaction serves for both the patient and the analyst and the more disturbing phantasies it defends against.

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