Projective Identification as a Contributor to Domestic Violence

Document Type


Publication Date



Many explanations have been given as to why men batter. Rarely are deep unconscious intrapsychic processes identified as contributing reasons. One way that violent men may use their partner to fill emotional needs is through the primitive defense of projective identification. Projective identification may be invoked by men to induce the other partner to carry split off threatening parts of the self that are too anxiety provoking to retain. The occurrence of projective identification could therefore be an important intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamic that contributes to the escalation of tension prior to the violent episode.


This article was originally published as Zosky, D. (2003). Projective identification as a contributor to domestic violence. Clinical Social Work Journal, 31, 4,419-431.