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More stuff about PI

Posted by gardenergirl on July 6, 2006, at 16:04:24

In reply to great points » Jost, posted by gardenergirl on July 6, 2006, at 15:58:19
fairly good article with a few definitions and clinical case examples
difference between projection and projective identification

-“The main difference between projection and projective identification is that the former belongs to intrapsychic dynamics, while the latter describes a very primitive form of relating. In terms of feelings experienced by the projector there is a clear difference between the two phenomena. When projective identification is at work, the projector feels at one with the other person. An "I am you" feeling. This is not the case in simple projection. Also, for the receiver, projective identification is far more disturbing and more difficult to deal with than a simple projection.”

This makes sense to me about how the “projector” feels after using one of these two mechanisms. (I’m going to start using “giver” to signify the one doing the projecting and “receiver” to signify the one being projected onto or into.) Projection seems more to be to be related to somehow denying one’s feelings to oneself, whereas projective identification seems to be more about actually eliminating (as if that were possible) the objectionable feeling. PI actively engages the other in what is projected, whereas simple projection is more hollow, transparent, and less internally “penetrating” to the one projected on.

Warning, I’m going to start using metaphors, and I’m probably going to mix them up. I sort of picture a projector image, that two dimensional, translucent image that one could see on a blank screen, as not really having any “mass”, and so it can be disregarded by the receiver. Whereas with projective identification, the idea is that the receiver is actually “penetrated” by the what’s projected. To me this means it has “mass” or weight, or it can have more of an effect than something more ephemeral, like a movie or slide projection.

Of course these phenomena are abstract and intangible in that there is no physical manifestation of the event itself. There are signs from feelings and behavior, so it can be observed and reflected upon. But it’s not “real” as in something you can see, touch, measure, etc. Jost's describing a sort of "energy" is good. My T also says that one unconscious "speaks to" another, which makes perfect sense to me if I don't try to make rational sense of it. :)

I also thought this part was interesting:
“Projection and projective identification can occur not only because one has to get rid of intolerably bad bits of oneself. The projector may be unable to own his positive qualities, his assets, because of guilt or fear of envy, retaliation, abandonment, loneliness or fear of harming someone important. By a process of projection or projective identification those good bits can be attributed to or deposited into someone else.” I have a hard time imagining what that might feel like for the “receiver”.

I imagine it might be harder to identify and process, because it’s a good feeling versus a negative one.

Also from the link, a simplified outline of the process:
“The process as it occurs in child development or in therapy can be dissected into three phases (Ogden, 1982):
1) The projector rids himself of unwanted bits;
2) Deposits them into (not just onto) the receiver;
3) Recovers a modified version of his projected bits.
Without this third phase, the process is not therapeutic or helpful to the projector.”

Finally, I saw something on a blog that talked about internet trolls and projective identification. If you think about how it feels when a “troll” or “flamer” comes here and does what they do, that could be viewed from a PI model. Some posters react with anger and incivility, and this behavior is not their usual style. Perhaps the “troll” has projected something into some of us via their post? Hmmmm. I’ll have to think more about that one.

Okay, end of rambling...





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