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Stern, S. (2002). Identification, Repetition, and Psychological Growth: An Expansion of Relational Theory. Psychoanal. Psychol., 19(4):722-738.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 19(4):722-738

Identification, Repetition, and Psychological Growth: An Expansion of Relational Theory

Steven Stern, PsyD

This article extends previous work (S. Stern, 2002) examining the place of identification within a contemporary intersubjective theoretical framework. It is argued that (a) identification is as central to psychological life as Freud thought—we merely have lost the conceptual lens to see its central position—and (b) identification has been implicitly central in many contemporary theories of the self. An unconscious search for a certain kind of identificatory experience animates many instances of pathological repetition as well as many transformative analytic encounters. This idea represents an expansion of current relational theory, which has held to a more conservative, Fairbairnian view of repetition as driven by attachment to old object ties. One extended and 2 brief clinical examples are offered.

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