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Hurry, A. Novick, J. Novick, K.K. (1976). Freud's Concept of Projection. J. Child Psychother., 4(2):75-88.

(1976). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 4(2):75-88

Freud's Concept of Projection

Anne Hurry, Jack Novick and Kerry Kelly Novick

A Historical Summary

Projection was first discussed by Freud in the 1890′s; at this stage projection was first of all a normal process, which could be “used” or “abused” for purposes of defence. He described the “normal” process as basic to many different phenomena, including myth, religion and primitive thinking; the various defensive uses of projection also covered a variety of processes, among which we may differentiate reflexive drive projection and externalisation of aspects of the self. These lines of thought were progressively expanded, culminating in two major papers. Totem and Taboo (1912-1913) contained Freud's major thinking on the role of projection in animism and primitive thinking in the savage or the child. Notes on a Case of Paranoia (1911c) contained his major thinking on projection as a defence.

For some years after this his main interest in this topic lay in the role of projection in the early development of the self. The particular process involved appears to contain elements of both non-defensive and defensive processes, but in Freud's later writings it is the relation of this process to the differentiation of self and object that is stressed, and by 1920 he no longer termed the process “projection” but described it as the “origin” of projection. (1920g)

Thereafter Freud continued his interest in projection until the end of his writings, gradually writing less about its non-defensive aspects, and focusing upon its defensive aspects, particularly upon the reflexive projection of the drive impulse.

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