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My Struggle with Projective Identification

Duncan Riach
4 min readDec 17, 2018

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I’ve been in therapy on and off, mostly on, for almost twenty years. I like therapy so much that I even trained to be a therapist, getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Anyone who needs that much therapy must be one messed-up individual. Yeah, that’s me; I’m pretty messed-up. I’m a little less messed-up than I used to be though. Perhaps it was from the therapy, or perhaps it was just from getting older.

One of the things I’ve discovered about how this brain-body operates is that it tends to be a pretty effective blank-slate for others to project onto, particularly those with a traditionally narcissistic bent. Today, I was thinking again about an incident with a spiritual teacher where she told me that I wasn’t a saint. I’ve written about it before, and I think about it a lot. One of the things she said to me was “Pride comes before a fall, and you’re going to have a massive fall.” I think that’s what she said, but who knows. The past gets reconstructed, and inevitably altered, on each remembering.

What I realized just today, over a decade after that event, was that I wasn’t feeling pride. There was no pride in me at all. I was simply wanting support and guidance. What I realized today was that she must have been talking about herself. She must have been feeling pride. She must have been warning herself that she had a “big fall” coming…

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Duncan Riach

Top Writer. Self-Revealing. Mental Health. Success. Fulfillment. Flow. MS Engineering/Technology. PhD Psychology. duncanriach.com