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Siegel, J.P. (2004). Identification as a Focal Point in Couple Therapy. Psychoanal. Inq., 24(3):406-419.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 24(3):406-419

Identification as a Focal Point in Couple Therapy

Judith P. Siegel, Ph.D.

It is impossible to speak meaningfully about a couple's relationship without giving full consideration to the way the partners' childhood experiences have influenced their identities. Each partner is affected by his or her relationships with both parents and by intimacy beliefs shaped through observations of the parents' marriage. Often, unconscious identifications underlie the interactions that lead distressed couples to seek therapy. This paper explores two concepts that can assist therapists in repairing the present in the context of the past—projective identification and disidentification. Consideration is given to the power of the parents' marriage and to identifications based on individual parents.

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