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Keywords:

  • primary identity;
  • primary self;
  • deintegration;
  • experimental infant research;
  • psychoanalytic infant observation;
  • projective identification;
  • participation mystique;
  • fusion;
  • intersubjectivity

This paper examines the Jungian concept of identity and distinguishes it from projective identification and participation mystique which also refer to non-differentiation between self and object but involve projective mechanisms. Clinical work by Fordham and a psychoanalytic infant observation are used to illustrate early perceptual operations defined by experimental researches. These operations are understood to be expressions of the primary self which manifest themselves before the structuring necessary for normal projective identification. This paper attempts to describe an intersubjective experience between mother and baby that allows for their separate ways of relating, but does not depend on projective mechanisms that can exist only after there has been adequate development.