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Blomfield, O.H. (1985). Parasitism, Projective Identification and the Faustian Bargain. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 12:299-310.

(1985). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 12:299-310

Parasitism, Projective Identification and the Faustian Bargain

O. H.D. Blomfield


Parasitism is commonly observed in everyday life and clinical practice. Psychoanalysts may perceive that one part of an analysand's psychic structure derives its energy parasitically from some 'other'—an aspect of the self or another individual.

Although there are more parasitic species than free-living, parasitology is not given deserved importance in the literature of biology, evolution, psychology and psychoanalysis.

Parasitism represents an evolutionary short-cut in the struggle of life against entropic decay and is a Faustian bargain at the most archaic level. The biologist Giard (1913) considered that mammalian evolution incorporated a stage of endoparasitism—the foetus being a true 'placental parasite'.

Giard's (1898) concept of metamorphosis permits a hypothesis which escapes the fantasy of current views, still influenced by a 'homunculus' attitude involving the projection of infancy into the womb.

The translation from foetus to baby involves the foreclosure/repudiation of the instinctual structures of placental parasitism. But parasitism may find expression subsequently.

Melanie Klein (1955) illustrated her concept of 'projective identification' by an analysis of the psychological material in Julian Green's novel If I Were You(1947). Her discussion of this version of the Faustian legend is developed to examine projective identification as a derivative of 'placental parasitism'.

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