By Karyne Messina


This book looks at President Trump, misogyny and what happened to Hillary.

A new book coming soon: Misogyny, Projective Identification, Mentalization

"Women Making a Difference in America"

According to EP Magazine,

"When you look at women making a difference, you won’t find a more shining example than Karyne(pronounced plain old Karen) Messina. From her earliest moments as a child and throughout her career she has spent her waking moments thinking about, observing and advocating for people, especially women. She has been a teacher, counselor, facility director, psychoanalyst—and now author--who analyzes women. What makes them tick? Why don’t they get the good jobs and pay they deserve? 

Why are they so much like their mothers, yet yearn to be separate individuals? Why do they tolerate being mistreated—by men of course, but also other women?What can she do to effect change and make this world a better place for women?


Women are still living in a man's world

The fight for equality must continue

What do you, Hillary Clinton and Clara Thompson have in common? Misogyny, Projective Identification and Mentalization. The same concepts   that help therapists and lawyers work with their clients to understand how misogynistic patterns operate at all social and political levels across America and the World. 

These same concepts are important in corporate America as well.  Shifting roles and changes in the status quo can raise anxiety, decrease  engagement and threaten people in positions of power. As more women rise to top positions, misogyny increases. Many men don't dislike women. They don't consider themselves to be misogynists. However, there is no escaping that we live in a patriarchal world. The idea that men are more powerful is embedded in our society.

These notions are perpetuated by men who want to retain power and women  who look for a man when they need something to be done from changing a lightbulb to driving to a vacation spot.  Many men grow up learning they need to protect women who don't always  disavow them of that idea. 

The model of men as protectors can work until men are replaced by women in positions of power.  Since many segments of society still promote the idea that men deserve top positions,  misogyny creeps into otherwise congenial work environments when women gain power. The fight for equality must continue until women are truly equal  participants in today's world since to date, it is still a man's world


Misogyny effects women in blatant ways and in subtle ways

"PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION" implies others are less than, "MENTALIZATION" implies others are equal

  • In this book, in addition to 4 individual women whose lives are discussed, specific groups  of women who have suffered from dismissal and abuse are included. They are The Radium Girls of the 1920s, The Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II, Rwandan women of Tutsi and Hutu backgrounds and all-too-similar victims of wartime violence in many countries as well as women and girls brought into sex trafficking who are then persecuted for it.  

  • Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization tells the story of women who have been erased, dismissed, and devalued, while putting forth a hypothesis about why the phenomenon occurs and what can be done to change this dynamic. Karyne Messina proposes that projective identification—the mechanism that allows a person or group to get rid of negative feelings, thoughts, or fantasies by attributing them to someone else or others—can create a hivemind that leads to dismissal, humiliation, violence, and atrocity against women;  a process that can clearly be seen in most parts of the world today.

  • These issues include current problems that could be affecting you at home, at work, in school or in any other place where you encounter others who project unwanted aspects of themselves onto you. This is a good place to talk about how projection and projective identification affects you. With specific reference to the erasure of women’s contributions in society, including what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016 as well as the trauma that arises from the multitude of offenses that affect women on a regular basis. Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization sets a new agenda for understanding how misogyny is expressed socially.

Karyne Messina is trying to change the conversation about misogyny; first stop, Corning, NY.
Karyne Messina is trying to change the conversation about misogyny; first stop, Corning, NY.

What These Words Mean

Projective Identification: a One-mind Process, It's a form of bullying; IT HARMS

Projective identification is a defense mechanism that allows a person to rid him or herself of some aspect of his or her personality that is intolerable. In the process, this quality is projected onto another person. 

The original  projector feels temporarily like the "bad" characteristic is gone. The end result is  that the first person feels he or she has gotten rid of the attribute or quality and is thereafter, at least temporarily, relieved. In this person's mind, it is a trait that the other unwitting person exhibits. 

The receiver of the projection often initially feel stunned. It is as if he or she doesn't know what has happened. Eventually, however, this person may start to believe the characteristic belongs to him or her.


Mentalization: A Two-minds Process, It's a form of collaboration; IT HELPS

Mentalization is a healthy process. When it occurs, people feel free to express themselves while allowing others to do the same thing. In this state, a person knows his or her view and respects  those of another person or other people.

When mentalization is in play, all ideas are valued and no ideas are judged.  Everyone has a voice and is able to express his or her beliefs. In an environment where people mentalize,  personal, community and corporate engagement becomes possible.

This process is important whether people are in school, at work, on a playground, in a family setting or part of a corporate environment. Collaboration  between and among people is possible when mentalizing is part of all exchanges.


Obtuse terms need to be clarified--Simply Simplify!

Projective Identification involves one person controlling another person or other people.

  • It is a one-mind process and most likely it has happened to you. It occurs when one person accuses another person of doing something he or she didn't do. For example, bullies often project something about themselves onto someone else.

Mentalization involves a process where input from all participants is respected.

  • It is a two-minds process yet can include many people. This way of interacting with others facilitates optimal communication between and among people in most all settings. When all ideas are valued and respected by others, people feel engaged.

Projective Identification is occurring on the political stage in Washington, DC-now in 2019

  • We currently see this phenomenon occurring in Washington, DC as people blame others for what they themselves have done. These types of accusations range from lies to  serious crimes that are  potentially  life-threatening.

Mentalization promotes self-worth

  • It can be observed in groups that collaborate effectively;  in companies that participate in authentic engagement; with couples who respect  opinions of the other;  and with parents who encourage children to form and express their own opinions.

Projective identification lowers self-worth

  • Projective Identification can be observed in cases of  physical or emotional abuse where victims begin to believe those who have harmed  them; on play-grounds where bullies threaten them; in situations where sexual harassment exists.

Mentalization as an antidote for Projective Identification

  • Mentalization  helps people overcome the effects of projective identification. Learning how to respect the opinions of others is imperative in all areas of life whether it is at home, at work, in school, or when providing services to others.

Why these words matter

Mentalization and Projective Identification can happen in any setting.

Mentalization can improve Corporate Engagement and Responsibility

Helping people feel successful and good about what they do while meeting the goals of any enterprise is a result of authentic engagement. This can most effectively be achieved through respectful dialogue among all participants.  According to the authors of  The Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement, frequent feedback can be positively correlated with engagement.

Mentalization can also improve employee retention

When company leaders mentalize, they share ideas with employees at all levels and offer opportunities for people in all divisions to work together towards a common goal while respecting the efforts of everyone involved. In companies where all people are valued in this way, emotional investment in a company's success is increased.


Projective identification can effect morale in any organization 

Projective Identification can appear in a myriad of ways. Bullying is a classic manifestation of this mechanism and can occur in all types of settings, e.g.,  one person might try to get rid of a label by claiming an attribute belongs to someone else. The person receiving this projection initially is often stunned but can eventually begin to believe he or she possesses the quality.


Projective identification can happen to anyone at anytime

Recipients of projections usually become very upset.  Initially victims of this type of assault may feel stunned by the accusation.  However, when the person is shunned, laughed at and dropped by a group of friends, the victim can begin to question himself or herself or think he or she might actually be perceived in the way the bully or perpetrator has claimed. 


Where these Concepts Make a Difference

In Doctor's Offices

  • Mentalization or valuing and respecting the opinions of all patients is vitally important. People return when they are satisfied with the treatment they receive.

In Corporations

  • Mentalization can set the tone for engagement. This is important in any business setting since everyone is more productive when his or her opinion matters. 

In Industry

  • Mentalization is extremely important in industry where all people want to be respected. When this occurs, job satisfaction and productivity increase.

In Colleges and Universities

  • Everyone who lives on a college campus should know about projective identification because  it can be the mechanism that leads to sexual harassment and assault.

In Retail Settings

  • Have you opened a new location,  or added a new product or service? While these things matter, what matters more is how customers are treated. 

In Schools

  • In schools there are bullies who project or accuse others of things they actually do. Because they can't stand these things about  themselves, they  blame others.

Misogyny, Projective Identification and Mentalization

In your life, do you know people who make disparaging remarks about women? If you do, you can help stop misogyny .


  1. Karyne  Messina discusses the relationship between patriarchy and misogyny at her book launch event in Washington, DC on May 2, 2019. Other topics included ways people can help stop misogyny through  what she calls "Double Exposure." This includes exposing people who engage in blatant acts of misogyny to appropriate authorities while exposing others to the ways women suffer from discrimination, sexual harassment, and inequality and all  other ways in which the 'less than' message is conveyed to women everywhere. Enlisting caring men to help  stop their friends from denigrating women by setting examples was another part of her message. "If  men say to their friends things they are are offensive, it could go a long way to minimize disrespectful treatment most women have had to endure.

Projective Identification occurs in Sex-Trafficking

Forcing one's  thoughts and feelings onto another person while maintaining control is a form of PI.

  • Forcing one's  thoughts or feelings onto another person while maintaining control over that person is a form of misogyny and is an example of projective identification.

  • This is likely to be the case when the perpetrator insists  that the victim is the one who has the disavowed thoughts or feelings.


Mentalization is occurs when people collaborate


  • When people are aware of their own thoughts, ideas and feelings and accept that others have a right to differing ones, mentalization is most likely occurring.

  • This process also includes respect for others and lack of judgement about the their thoughts, ideas and feelings. 

Projective Identification in the workplace


Projective Identification exists in companies of all types.

This phenomenon occurs in all types of settings. When any employee, supervisor, parent, teacher or coach blames someone else for something he or she actually did, projective identification could be occurring.  It's kind of like corporate bullying. One clue this is happening is when the person receiving the projection feels stunned or confused.  He or she may not be certain whether what is being said is true or not. Eventually though, the receiver of the projection  can begin to believe that he or she has the characteristic that the projector got rid of because the trait or behavior caused him or her to feel uncomfortable or bad. An excellent example of projective identification is evident when examining what happened to Hillary in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Can anything be done when someone accuses a person of something that doesn't feel right?

Yes, in many settings a person can let the accuser know what he or she has said isn't true. They can verbally "give back" the projected part of the other person.

Who can help?

In corporations,  a person's supervisor may be able to help. If not, HR might be the next step.  Other options may include government agencies such as the EEO. 

What can be done if all of those options fail?

A person who is unfairly accused of something he or she didn't do can always contact an attorney who specializes in employment law.  If the stress seems like it is too much to handle, a therapist may also be able to help.