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Projective Identification :
Psychological Meaning and Therapeutic Application
Psychoanal 2009;20:125-136
Published online December 31, 2009
© 2009 Korean Association of Psychoanalysis.

Young-Min Choi, M.D.

Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Inje University,
Sanggyepaik Hospital, Seoul, Korea
Projective identification is a term introduced by Melanie Klein in 1946. A brief historical overview of the
important contributions to the development and application of the concept of projective identification is presented.
Projective identification is viewed as a group of fantasies and accompanying object relations involving three phases
which together make up a single psychological unit. In the initial phase, the projector fantasies ridding himself of
an aspect of himself and putting that aspect into another person in a controlling way. Secondly, via the interpersonal
reaction, the projector exerts pressure on the recipient of the projection to experience feelings that are congruent
with the projection. Finally, the recipient psychologically processes the projected and makes a modified version of
it available for re-internalization by the projector.
Projective identification can be formulated as a process that serves as : 1) A type of defence 2) A type of communication
3) A type of object relatedness 4) A pathway for psychological change.
Under normal condition and child rearing and in many clinical and analytic settings projective identification can
be therapeutically applied with much usefulness. This paper attempts to give some explanations for several clinical
Keywords : Projective identification·Psychological meaning·Therapeutic application.

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