Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization
Psychoanalytic, Social, and Institutional Manifestations
by Karyne E. Messina
Pub Date 09 Apr 2019
The Radium Girls of the 1920s. The Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. Rwandan women of Tutsi and Hutu backgrounds and all-too-similar victims of wartime violence. Girls brought into sex trafficking and persecuted for it. Throughout history, women have continuously had the injustices committed against them extinguished from the collective memory by their perpetrators, supervisors, and guardians.
Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization tells the story of women who have been erased, dismissed, and devalued, while putting forth a hypothesis about why the phenomenon occurs and what can be done to change this dynamic. Karyne Messina proposes that projective identification—the mechanism that allows a person or group to get rid of negative feelings, thoughts, or fantasies by attributing them to someone else—can (particularly in political and cultural settings) create a hivemind and lead to dismissal, humiliation, violence, and atrocity against women.
With specific reference on the erasure of women’s contributions in society, including the recent election loss by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the trauma that arises from the many effects of regarding women as a group as "less" or "other," Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization sets a new agenda for understanding how misogyny is expressed socially.
“In this important book, psychoanalyst Karyne E. Messina describes the damaging effects of what she calls the ‘emotional violence of silence,’ the deployment of power to erase the contribution of women throughout history. Today in the age of the ‘Me Too’ movement, women are starting to speak out—but the rising tide of voices still has to combat a long history of systemic suppression. Understanding these forces has never been more timely. This book can help us break the cycle and usher in a new and necessary cultural shift.” —Maddie Grant, Culture Consultant and Digital Strategist and Founding Partner, WorkXO
“Here Karyne E. Messina explores misogyny through a psychoanalytic lens. Familiar with many theoretical perspectives and using wide-ranging examples, she shows how psychoanalytic theories contribute to an understanding of misogyny’s unconscious roots and its potential for resolution. The reader is guaranteed a thoughtful, thorough, and suspenseful journey through this timely topic.” —Helen Stein, Consultant, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Center for the Study of Trauma and Resilience; Psychologist, private practice, New York City, USA; Retired
“This book presents novel ideas that advance not only the understanding of projective identification, but also concepts related to the aspects of work that promote improvement in psychotherapy that I have not seen before. I think that the topics of the book will be of universal interest to a variety of readers for many years as the issue of discrimination not only continues to be a struggle, but in recent times, the ‘Me Too’ movement gives these questions urgency not seen before. The book contains a very contemporary application of theory on social experience; it is likely to become a tour de force work.” —Harry Gill, Assistant Clinical Professor, George Washington University; Medical Director, Suburban Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medicine
“Dr. Messina’s book takes up the worryingly persistent problem of misogyny. Marshaling several rich examples, she shows how the process of projective identification illuminates diverse manifestations of violence against women. Drawing on attachment theory, she explains how self-awareness and perspective taking can allow us to escape the grips of projective identification and potentially ameliorate the continuing prejudicial ways women are treated. This book makes an important contribution to further our understanding of the problem of misogyny.” —Shweta Sharma, Senior Staff Psychologist, The Menninger Clinic; Assistant Professor, Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine