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Grotstein, J.S. (2005). ‘Projective transidentification’: An extension of the concept of projective identification. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):1051-1069.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):1051-1069

‘Projective transidentification’: An extension of the concept of projective identification Language Translation

James S. Grotstein

Questions about the concept of projective identification still persist. The author presents the following hypotheses: Klein's traditional view and Bion's extension and revision of it can be thought of as occupying a continuum in reverse. He postulates that Bion's concept of communicative intersubjective projective identification (which the author renames ‘projective transidentification’) is primary and inclusive of Klein's earlier unconscious, omnipotent, intrapsychic mode but includes Bion's ‘realistic’ communicative mode as well. The author hypothesizes, consequently, that intersubjective projective identification constitutes both the operation of an unconscious phantasy of omnipotent intrapsychic projective identification solely within the internal world of the projecting subject—in addition to two other processes: conscious and/or preconscious modes of sensorimotor induction, which would include signaling and/or evocation or prompting gestures or techniques (mental, physical, verbal, posturing or priming) on the part of the projecting subject; followed by spontaneous empathic simulation in the receptive object of the subject's experience in which the receptive object is already inherently ‘hard-wired’ to be empathic with the prompting subject.

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