About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Projective Identification Constitutes the "Adopted Child Role"


Projective Identification Constitutes the "Adopted Child Role"

Projective identification is a term introduced Melanie Klein to describe the process whereby in a close relationship, as between adoptive mother and adopted child (lovers, or therapist and patient), parts of the adoptive mother's self or desires, in unconscious fantasy be thought of as being forced into the adopted child. The traumatized adopted child is desperate to please the adoptive mother, to receive the reward of her attention. The adopted child prefers the adoptive mother's positive attention and fears her negative attention. Adapting to the adoptive mother's desires makes the adopted child's life pleasant, which is "classical conditioning" where the adopted child is essentially groomed in young childhood to conduct themselves in the adoptive mother's preferred way. The adopted child's acting out "the adopted child role" which is a defense mechanism, is mistaken for the child's personality. The false self and the real self are split and remain separate, where the real self is kept secret from the adoptive mother and family.  
While based on Freud's concept of psychological projection, projective identification represents a step beyond. In R.D. Laing's words, "The one person does not use the other merely as a hook to hang projections on. He/she strives to find in the other, or to induce the other to become, the very embodiment of projection". Feelings which can not be consciously accessed are defensively projected into another person in order to evoke the thoughts or feelings projected.

Projective identification may be used as a type of defense, a means of communicating, a primitive form of relationship, or a route to psychological change; used for ridding the self of unwanted parts or for controlling the other's body and mind. 
Relationship problems have been linked to the way there can be a division of emotional labor in a couple, by way of projective identification, with one partner carrying projected aspects of the other for them. Thus one partner may carry all the aggression or all the competence in the relationship, the other all the vulnerability.
Jungians describe the resultant dynamics as characterising a so-called "wounded couple" – projective identification ensuring that each carries the most ideal or the most primitive parts of their counterpart. The two partners may initially have been singled out for that very readiness to carry parts of each other's self; but the projected inner conflicts/division then come to be replicated in the partnership itself.
Conscious resistance to such projective identification may produce on the one side guilt for refusing to enact the projection, on the other bitter rage at the thwarting of the projection.
Though a difficult concept for the conscious mind to come to terms with, since its primitive nature makes its operation or interpretation seem more like magic or art than science, projective identification is nonetheless a powerful tool of interpersonal communication.
The recipient of the projection may suffer a loss of both identity and insight as they are caught up in and manipulated by the other person's fantasy. One therapist, for example, describes how "I felt the progressive extrusion of his internalized mother into me, not as a theoretical construct but in actual experience. The intonation of my voice altered, became higher with the distinctly Ur-mutter quality.".        If the projection can be accepted and understood, however, much insight into the projector will be obtained.
Projective identification differs from simple projection in that projective identification can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby a person, believing something false about another, influences or coerces that other person to carry out that precise projection. In extreme cases, the recipient may lose any sense of their real self and become reduced to the passive carriers of outside projections, as if possessed by them.
Objects projected
The objects (feelings, attitudes) extruded in projective identification are of various kinds – both good and bad, ideal and abjected.
Hope may be projected by a client into their therapist, when they can no longer consciously feel it themselves; equally, it may be a fear of (psychic) dying which is projected.
Aggression may be projected, leaving the projector's personality diminished and reduced; alternatively it may be desire, leaving the projector feeling asexual.
The good/ideal parts of the personality may be projected, leading to dependence upon the object of identification; equally it may be jealousy or envy that are projected, perhaps by the therapist into the client.
Projective identification may take place with varying degrees of intensity.
In narcissism, extremely powerful projections may take place and obliterate the distinction between self and other.
In less disturbed personalities, projective identification is not only a way of getting rid of feelings but also of getting help with them.
In an emotionally balanced person, projective identification may act as a bridge to empathy and understanding.
Various types of projective identification have been distinguished over the years:
  • Acquisitive projective identification, where someone takes on the attributes of someone else. Unlike attributive projective identification, where someone else is induced to become one's own projection.
  • Projective counter-identification, where the therapist unwittingly assumes the feelings and role of the patient to the point where he acts out within the therapy within this assumed role that has been projected into him, a step beyond the therapist merely receiving the patient's projections without acting on them.
  • Acquisitive projective identification, a concept introduced by Joan Lachkar. It primarily occurs when both partners in a relationship simultaneously project onto one another. Both deny the projections, both identify with those projections.
A division has also been made between normal projective identification and pathological projective identification, where what is projected is splintered into minute pieces before the projection takes place.

In psychotherapy

As with transference and counter-transference, projective identification can be a potential key to therapeutic understanding, especially where the therapist is able to tolerate and contain the unwanted, negative aspects of the patient's self over time.
Transactional analysis emphasizes the need for the therapist's Adult to remain uncontaminated, if the experience of the client's projective identification is to be usefully understood.