A recent enthusiast compared the significance of Klein's 'discovery' of projective identification with the discovery of gravity. It is undoubtedly an important but complex subject. The notion of projection is relatively straightforward. The depressed young man lying on a beach who said 'everyone on this beach looks utterly miserable' was clearly attributing to others his own affective state. We commonly attribute our more difficult and unacceptable feelings to others -- for example, blaming those that are close to us for our own shortcomings. Externalization, the outward limb of projection, allows us to disown responsibility and to feel an illusory sense of mastery over our impulses. If our unwanted impulses and feelings are reflected, like a boomerang, resulting in feeling of being under constant attack, the projection has gone full circle and leads to anxiety, or if extreme, paranoid delusions. Identification, similarly, refers to the process by which self-representations are built up and modified during development, as distinct from the conscious copying of imitation. As Klein originally conceived it, projective identification combines these two notions in a highly specific way. She described it as a phantasy in which bad parts of the infantile self are split off from the rest of the self and projected into the mother or the breast. As a result, the infant feels that his mother has 'become' the bad parts of himself. The projection is 'into' rather than 'onto' the object -- prototypically the mother or the analyst -- and what is projected is not so much a feeling or an attitude, but the self, or part of it. Klein imagined that in the paranoid-schizoid position the infant might project 'bad' sadistic parts of himself into the mother's body in order to control and injure her from within. If these are then reintrojected -- introjective identification -- the individual contains a bad identificate, a potential source of low self-esteem or self-hatred. In this original formulation, projective identification was defensive, intrapsychic, and solipsistic, a mental transaction involving the self and a perception, but not the participation of the other. How does then projective identification differ, if at all, from projection? Klein maintained that projection is the mental mechanism underpinning the process, and projective identification is the specific phantasy expressing it. Spillius suggests that it adds depth to Freud's notion of projection by emphasizing that a phantasy of projection is only possible if accompanied by a projection of parts of the self. In contrast, many American writers distinguish projection and projective identification by whether or not the recepient of the projections is emotionally affected or not by the phantasy. If projective identification is seen as an interactive phenomenon, then the recepient of the projection may be induced to feel or act in ways that originate with the projector.
[...]- syphilis - syphilis caused by Jewish prostitute [...]
[...] a "politological" rather than a psychiatric diagnosis should be offered: political paranoia. The most important psychopathology of Hitler were paranoid delusions, particularly the threat of world domination by the Jews. Hitler's dominant ego defense was projection, which regularly interfered with his evaluation of his adversary's intentions. In addition to many paranoid features, narcissistic features are to be emphasized as well: his grandiosity, tenuous personal relationships, sensitivity to criticism, and potential for rage. These two severe personality characteristics — paranoia and narcissism — were joined in his eliminationist anti-Semitism. Hitler is the exemplar of the destructive charismatic who unifies his wounded people by identifying and attacking an enemy.
[...] Bion realized that tensions evolve as the group assigns itself certain group fantasies. The group fragments, divides into subgroups, pairs-off, or acts overly dependent in order to evacuate painful anxieties (relinquishing all individual thinking to the collective group self).
"It is usually a man or woman with marked paranoid trends; perhaps, if the presence of an enemy is not immediately obvious to the group, the next best thing is for the group to choose a leader to whom it is."
The leader, on the basic assumption level, does not create the group by virtue of his fanatical adherence to an idea, but is rather an individual whose personality renders him peculiarly susceptible to the obliteration of individuality by the basic group's leadership requirements.
To me the leader is as much the creature of the basic assumption as any other member of the group, and this, I think, is to be expected if we envisage identification of the individual with the leader as depending not on introjection alone but on a simultaneous process of projective identification.
"an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his own will. He is leader by virtue of his capacity for instantaneous, involuntary combination with every other member of his group and only differs from them in that, whatever his function in the work group, he is the incarnation of the basic assumption group leader.
This statement is important for several reasons. First, it makes it obvious that, according to Bion, it is not the leader who chooses his group -- neither according to his own needs or his perception of the group's needs -- but much more the basic assumption group which seeks and chooses its appropriate leader according to its (unconscious) needs.
Quote from: Hadrian on November 17, 2007, 12:15:15 PMThis statement is important for several reasons. First, it makes it obvious that, according to Bion, it is not the leader who chooses his group -- neither according to his own needs or his perception of the group's needs -- but much more the basic assumption group which seeks and chooses its appropriate leader according to its (unconscious) needs. So basically I don't have to do anything - the group will find me ?
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