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Simenauer, E. (1985). Identification in the Theory and Technique of Psychoanalysis. Some Thoughts on its Farther Reaches and Functions. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:171-184.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:171-184

Identification in the Theory and Technique of Psychoanalysis. Some Thoughts on its Farther Reaches and Functions

Erich Simenauer


A re-valuation of the concept of identification appears pertinent as it has come to embrace a multitude of psychoanalytic notions. Historically Freud has already differentiated meaning and function of identification. The original choice of object in the infant is coupled with his narcissism; identification is unconscious, partial and ambivalent; both determine the outcome if object loss occurs. Through identification the individual is being constituted.

This notion culminated in Klein's concept of projective identification, among her other metapsychological extensions. By projecting not only phantasies and impulses but also part of its self the infant becomes capable of understanding and using symbols. Klein's notions on thought processes are commented upon here, with the inclusion of some language research, and it is argued that they are in line with Freud's paper 'Negation'.

The traditional notion of identification is then extended to an 'autoplastic' one which discusses autochthonic intrapersonal processes and hereditary factors. Autoplastic identification is primary, it becomes modified by the traditionally accepted mechanism of (alloplastic) identification.

A vignette from an analysis is given for illustration. The paper concludes with a discussion of the death-instinct in so far as it touches upon identification.

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