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(1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. II, 1954: The Struggle Against Identification. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 200-217.. Psychoanal Q., 25:614-615.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. II, 1954: The Struggle Against Identification. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 200-217.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:614-615

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. II, 1954: The Struggle Against Identification. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 200-217.

In this psychoanalytic study of four patients who struggled against identifying themselves with an important parental figure, Greenson discusses incorporation, introjection, and the metapsychology of identification. Each patient had introjected, and identified himself with, a hated parent but tried to remain unaware of this identification. Behind a shallow positive Oedipus complex lay strong pregenital libidinal and aggressive, passive and active strivings toward the parent of the same sex. The patients were aware only of hatred for the parent of the same sex. The parent of the opposite sex was later idealized and became part of the ego ideal. The ambivalence in these patients was different from that usually observed in neurotic patients. Love and hate were definitely separated from each other (a condition more infantile than ambivalence), and sudden vacillations occurred between love and hate. Fusion of affects represents a higher level of maturation than rapid alternations of opposite affects.

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The patients all attempted to evade the parent of the same sex. They had a stereotyped picture of this parent which was not corrected by experiences of everyday life. All their object relationships were diluted with identifications. They were hungry for new objects with which to form new identifications, but had to deny the real object of their hunger, the parent of the same sex. They were subject to disturbances of mood. they resembled depressives but were not primarily depressed persons. Their conceptions of themselves fluctuated, and they suffered disturbances of body image, body sensations, and reality testing. They were prone to acting out. Negation and denial were the chosen methods of avoiding painful stimuli. Sleeping and eating were disturbed but sexual function was satisfactory. Such patients may be classified with perverts and addicts between the transference neuroses and the narcissistic neuroses.

All the patients felt that the identification with the hated parent was ominous and frightening, apparently because the introjection and identification are primitive. The patients were terrified of identifying with the parent as if this meant being devoured by the parent. They seemed intuitively to have been aware of the oral sadistic nature of their early introjections. The regression to the fragmented introjection was felt as a loss of cohesive representation of the self and roused fear of loss of the sense of identity. In these patients a deep regression has occurred with a return to a level at which the ego is unable to maintain a separation between the introject and the self. The patients felt that they were being devoured by the introjected object or that they were the hated introject.

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Article Citation

(1956). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. II, 1954. Psychoanal. Q., 25:614-615

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