Staff & Provider Engagement

What is Projective Identification, and Why Should I Care?

We’ve all had an experience dealing with someone who is upset or angry. In these uncomfortable situations, it is sometimes difficult to know where the discomfort comes from—us or the other person. The projection of negative feelings from one person into another is what psychiatrists call “projective identification.” In this learning bite, Helen Riess, M.D., explains how healthcare professionals can spot projective identification in stressful interactions with patients and how an empathetic response can lead to a calmer state of mind for both the patient and the clinician.

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