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Steyn, L. (2013). Tactics and Empathy: Defences against Projective Identification. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(6):1093-1113.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(6):1093-1113

Tactics and Empathy: Defences against Projective Identification Language Translation

Lesley Steyn

(Accepted for publication 27 February 2013)

In this paper the author argues that interpretations made when the analyst has not done the emotional work of recognising and bearing what kind of object she has become in the patient's psychic reality will be experienced as empty tactics - even lies - rather than interpretations of integrity. However, interpreting from a position of bearing the truth of the patient's perception will be technically difficult and indicate turmoil as the analyst struggles to take in the patient's view of her. If the analyst avoids integrating her own picture of herself with the patient's picture (despite giving voice to the patient's picture) the split inside the analyst will be felt and intensify the patient's need to split. Vignettes demonstrate how the analyst, believing she is trying to understand, may become a projective-identification-refusing object and the issue of the analyst's disclosure of her countertransference is examined. Ultimately, the author argues, a capacity to receive and bear projective identification requires empathy with both patient and analyst-as-patient's object, engaged in a process about which both are ambivalent.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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