Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization looks at how the psychoanalytic concepts of projective identification and mentalization may explain the construction of society and how they have enabled misogyny to be expressed in social, political and institutional settings.
The first part explores projective identification as a mechanism for the suppression of women, looking at the origins of the concept in psychoanalysis and its expansion. The author examines the story of Clara Thompson as an example, arguing that her virtual disappearance from the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis itself is a telling example of this process at work. The second part of the book uses four examples of individuals, including the recent election loss by Hilary Clinton in 2016, to show that projective identification can (particularly in political and cultural settings), overtake and motivate groups as well as individuals and lead to violence, atrocity, humiliation and dismissal of and against women. Part three then features case studies of four groups of women from the twentieth century, including victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, showing how projective identification against groups has occurred.
With specific reference on the erasure of women’s contributions in society, both individually and collectively, and the trauma that arises from the many effects of regarding women as a group as ‘less’ or ‘other’, this is a book which sets a new agenda for understanding how misogyny is expressed socially. Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization will be of interest to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists as well as scholars of politics, gender and cultural studies
From Joanne Gold on American Psychoanalytic Association’s Listserv:
Karen, I just read your book in the IPI Publications. Wow, Congratulations! A superlative synthesis, and call to action! How do you write so many pages so quickly? Incredibly impressive. Our work with the WCP Board, was way ahead of its time. Love how psychoanalysis is currently evolving! I think your conceptualization of projective identification is very apt. The relentless gaslighting and denial that Trump employs-the most primitive defenses. He has managed to project his fear of germs into the outer world, such that our entire population is having to negotiate past a paranoid schizoid position during the pandemic, the fear of another who can infect us, hand washing, wariness of the stranger. Fences in the world outside, rather than recognizing the stranger within. In the case of Trump, his living in a perverse and anal universe, corrupting institutions, without collaborative know how, an inability to empathize or contain anxiety within domestic and foreign relations.
I think about leadership within Psychoanalytic organizations, institutes, and training programs. How processes of trauma or projective identification are often transmitted from generation to generation. It takes great trust and courage for individuals to engage in psychoanalytic treatment or training, given the fact that transference, countertransference, internalizations are ubiquitous in the consulting room, in supervision, where there is often a parallel process, in the classroom, within organizations, or nation states. I have thought a lot about the ways projective identification within a dyad or group can go awry and create impasses with regard to ethnicity, race, or even ageism, ie what we let elders or adolescents hold for us.
From a Community psychoanalytic perspective, optimally we need to be able to engage in dialogue or Radical Openness, when bringing our symbolic couches, or ideas into the community, with any complex interpretations in line with where individuals or groups might be at a given moment, addressing or translating to well functionings egos, rather than speaking past consciousness to the unconscious in the town square to pull rank fettered by theory, or denying real feelings, in ways that can be received as gaslighting and derailing. I think Muriel Bowser was immensely psychoanalytic and able to mitigate potential unrest and emotion when she boldly painted the street Black Lives Matter and named the Plaza in front of the White House prior to an anticipated rally in Washington.
I appreciate your writing on Attachment and attachment trauma, introducing "redactional identification" and the necessity for openness and empathy for repair. The courage and compassion required to be empathic. Besides Character development, shared by most of our great religious traditions, psychoanalysis adds much value with knowledge about internalization, projective identification, mentalization, and reparation. I love your thanksgiving ideas with the four R's ,"remembering, repairing, reforming and reconciling." Thanks! Joanne