Projective Identification in the Clinical Setting: The Kleinian Interpretation

Projective Identification in the Clinical Setting: The Kleinian Interpretation

Projective Identification in the Clinical Setting: The Kleinian Interpretation

Projective Identification in the Clinical Setting: The Kleinian Interpretation

Synopsis

'Projective Identification in the Clinical Setting' presents a detailed study of Kleinian literature, setting a background of understanding for the day-to-day analytic atmosphere in which projective identification takes place.

Excerpt

There have been hundreds of articles and many books written by Kleinian analysts on the theoretical and technical aspects of projective identification (PI). These writings usually explore the concept of PI and cover the author's theoretical views of this mental mechanism. In other words, the question of “what is PI” has been deliberated many times over in the literature. I will not duplicate these efforts.

Instead, I am interested in what happens in the clinical situation, between patient and Kleinian analyst, regarding PI and the Kleinian interpretive stance. In other words, how exactly do Kleinians interpret projective identification? Rather than looking at what Kleinians propose would be theoretically helpful to interpret, I am focusing on what they actually say in the session to the patient to interpret the projective identification process. To better do this, I will summarize and comment on the overall direction Kleinians take in interpreting PI. After this review of the literature, I will take up my own approach, as a Kleinian analyst, to exploring and interpreting PI. I will do this by sharing extensive case studies in which PI played a central role.

Some Kleinian authors express specific ideas about the intrapsychic meaning or motivation of PI, but they do not necessarily take that up in their clinical interventions. There are many articles in which the author makes general, 'all-purpose' recommendations about what to interpret or in which the author states something to the effect of “I interpreted some of her phantasies about me, the internal objects she was trying to deal with, and the ways she was projecting them into me.” Unfortunately, quite a few articles are presented in this vague manner, which makes it hard to see what is actually done in the clinical setting. Instead, I am looking at

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