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Dorpat, T.L. (1983). Splitting and Projective Identification: By J. S. Grotstein. New York & London: Jason Aronson. 1981. Pp. 236.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 64:116-119.

(1983). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 64:116-119

Splitting and Projective Identification: By J. S. Grotstein. New York & London: Jason Aronson. 1981. Pp. 236.

Review by:
Theo L. Dorpat

This is a timely book: the concepts of splitting and projective identification have been the focus of vigorous controversy in recent years. One of the author's aims was to address classical, as well as Kleinian, analysts in the hope of attaining rapprochement and integration of important conceptual issues and terms. The following discussion will give a brief overview of this book and a critique of Grotstein's theoretical formulations.

This volume is divided into two parts, with the first part devoted to splitting and the second part to projective identification. Grotstein defines splitting as the activity by which the ego discerns differences within the self and its objects or between itself and objects, and he indicates that there is both normal and defensive splitting. He claims that splitting is a basic mental mechanism which includes perceptual, cognitive, and defence operations. The epigenesis of splitting is the epigenesis of the quality of distinctiveness and the capacity to separate qualitities, both defensively and undefensively. The author's theories on the epigenesis of both splitting and projective identification are presented as if they were based on known and accepted facts. He does not provide either logical or empirical evidence for the theories he presents on the epigenesis of these mental functions. Developmental studies derived from infant and child observation or the clinical reports of child analysts could be used to test some of the hypotheses presented in the book about the ontogenesis of psychic defences.

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