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Steiner, R. (2009). On: On Understanding Projective Identification in the Treatment of Psychotic States of Mind. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(6):1435-1437.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(6):1435-1437

Letters to the Editors

On: On Understanding Projective Identification in the Treatment of Psychotic States of Mind Related Papers

Riccardo Steiner

Dear Editors,

I have read with great interest Joseph Aguayo's (2009) recent paper in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. I would like to add just a few comments on what the author said concerning the history of projective identification and the role played by Herbert Rosenfeld in using the term, and in adding his own personal contribution to its application to understanding psychotic processes in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

I think it is possible to be even more precise than Aguayo in trying to clarify those issues. In his paper of 1947, published a few months after Melanie Klein had published her 1946 paper (where, in a rather sketchy way, she mentioned for the first time projective identification as she understood it), Rosenfeld referred very clearly to the notion of projective identification, quoting Klein's paper where, to use Rosenfeld words, “she has shown the connection of schizoid ego-splitting with projective identification” (Rosenfeld, 1947, p. 138, note 10). Furthermore, in describing how Mildred, as he called his patient, felt dead “through the projective identification with the object” in which she had penetrated (Rosenfeld, 1947, p. 138), he already differentiated between two types of projective identification which are quantitatively different: one related to the state of depersonalization in which the patient projected only smaller parts of herself into the object; the other type of projective identification was related to how the patient felt that “in her greedy desires” she completely entered into another object (Rosenfeld, 1947, p.

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