Projective identification: an alternative hypothesis.

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Abstract

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 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-451
Number of pages21
JournalPsychoanalytic Quarterly
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1987

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