The process of this thread is a curious one. What are we doing?
- Are we taking a concept from another system, translating it into our own model’s language and determining if it is useful to us or not?
- Are we saying that we do not like what some people have meant by the term ‘projective identification’ but, if we make it mean something else, we are prepared to steal the name?
- Are we starting with phenomenological experience and attempting to describe it in our model’s language?
- Or, are we starting with something that Melanie Klein used to describe an inferred process in the first four months of life, dragging it screaming into the here-and-now and standing around it to see what it does? Trying to decide if it even exists?
For my part (or sins), I have been doing, largely, the first. I have been aware of affective states in myself in the presence of clients (and others) and it was extremely interesting to here of a possible explanation, alternative to countertransference, for some of these incidents.
I think that Thomas Fuchs has given us a clear and useful, long-hand sense of something that could conceivably transpire between individuals. I think Brian O’Neill captured it in short-hand; “the introjection of a projection”. I think the idea that coercion can be facilitatively present instead of, or as well as, the ‘projection and/or dissociated affective state’ remains plausible.
[I agree with Thomas Fuchs that Object Relations Theory can be vague and historical-solution-based. Further, it depends heavily on unfalsifiable propositions concerning the reification of organismic processes. Having said that, Stern (1985) has shed doubt on much of their work, as you say. However, the development of Self Psychology and, in particular, Intersubjectivist Theory (Stolorow et al.) does have much of interest to Gestalt, a point that has been made by Breshgold & Zahm (Gestalt Journal, Spring 1992), Jacobs (Gestalt Journal, Fall 1992) and Yontef (1993), among others.]