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Meissner, W.W., S.J. (1970). Notes on Identification I. Origins in Freud. Psychoanal Q., 39:563-589.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:563-589

Notes on Identification I. Origins in Freud

W. W. Meissner, S.J.

SUMMARY

This survey of the evolution of Freud's notions of identification reveals the following types of identification which received varying degrees of emphasis throughout their development.

1. Dream identification: a form of condensation in dreaming by which the subject's ego represents itself as other figures in the dream's manifest content.

2. Hysterical identification: the assimilation of a property or symptom of an object by the subject as an expression of a resemblance derived from a common element which remains unconscious. The assimilation is functional and symptomatic and has no relation to structuralization.

3. Primary identification: the original and primitive form of emotional attachment to an object prior to any object relations. The model for this relation is the incorporation of the oral phase of libidinal development.

4. Narcissistic (secondary) identification: the form of identification following abandonment or loss of an object which regressively replaces the abandoned object relation by introjection of the object. Oral incorporation is again appealed to

as a model but in a different sense, as dictated by the precedence of an object cathexis. Introjection implies that something is taken in from the object. This has primary application to superego formation but is also extended to ego formation. The explicit intention of this form of identification is structural.

5. Partial (secondary) identification: a form of identification based on the perception of a common quality which does not depend on an object relation. The mechanism does not involve introjection and pertains to the development of structure within the ego. It is an important mechanism in character formation and in group formation.

The clarification of these mechanisms and their theoretical and clinical implications is a continuing problem and concern which is part of the heritage Freud has left with us.

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