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Porder, M.S. (1987). Projective Identification: An Alternative Hypothesis. Psychoanal Q., 56:431-451.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:431-451

Projective Identification: An Alternative Hypothesis

Michael S. Porder, M.D.


The concept of projective identification as a primitive defense mechanism is reassessed. An alternative hypothesis is offered: that projective identification can best be understood as a compromise formation which includes as its major component an "identification with the aggressor" or a "turning of passive into active." This reversal is demonstrated within a two-tiered transference/countertransference structure. On the surface is the familiar transference/countertransference of the analyst as powerful parent and the patient as the helpless child. On the deeper level the patient enacts the role of dominant parent and the analyst experiences the feelings which the patient had felt as a child.

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