AUDIO – Mannie Sher, Eric Miller Lecture 2019
Introjective identification: the consultant’s instrument; the consultant’s nemesis
Introjective Identification is a relatively neglected concept in our work, but it is an important one. In consultancy work of the type we at OPUS are familiar with, we calibrate our feelings and emotions so that we are not too far removed emotionally from the client system as to have little or no impact on it; and we are not so closely identified with the client system that the consultant cannot think and act independently.
Introjection is defined as the taking into oneself a large part of the outside world and making it the object of unconscious phantasy. Ferenczi (1909) pointed to the correlation between oral impulses and introjection; and between anal impulses and projection. Freud (1915, 1925) adopted the term introjection to refer to everything that is a source of pleasure; and projection of all that which is a source of unpleasure.
Mannie argues for increased awareness of the concept and dynamics of Introjective Identification (alongside Projective Identification); for creating the necessary supportive structures for consultants so that they are able to examine and work through Introjective processes in order to keep their minds as clear and as free as possible for receiving and holding the clients’ projections. Mannie uses case material to illustrate the interactions of these client-consultant relationships and their impact on both client and consultant and upon the work.
Mannie Sher is a Principal Researcher/Consultant at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; he is also a practicing psychoanalytical psychotherapist. He is a former director of the Tavistock Institute’s Group Relations Programme and from these roles he has consulted to many organisations during a long and exciting career as a social scientist.