Projective Identification in Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Therapy
Name of Concept
Projective Identification in Couple Therapy
Projective identification (PI) offers a powerful lens through which to view chronic marital conflict and unhappiness from a psychoanalytic perspective. Although PI was previously considered solely a feature of serious personality disorders, it is now recognized to be manifest in healthier people, including distressed couples.
PI is a complex concept that originated in the work of Melanie Klein (1946), whose early ideas have been refined as applied to couples by (in chronological order) Dicks (1967), Willi (1984), Wachtel and Wachtel (1986), Scarf (1987), Slipp (1988), Zinner (1989), Catherall (1992), Siegel (1992, 2010), Berkowitz (1999), Middelberg (2001), Donovan (2003), Stern (2006), Lansky (2007), Gurman (2008), and Ringstrom (2014).
PI is a form of interpersonal defensein which people recruit others to help them tolerate their own painful intrapsychic states of mind. This contrasts with purely intrapsychic...
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