Introjects in gestalt therapy: unsuccessful attitudes or disorders signs?

Introjection is considered as a common way of human interaction with the outside
world. This process is characterized by a disorderly and unsystematic selection of
the others views, opinions and value judgments. Many compare the appearance of
introjects with the fact that parents tell their children in early childhood about what
their future should be. And he, in fact, for some time follows someone else’s plan –
incorporates strangers installations. Yes, and the psychological term literally is
translated as “taking inside.” And a person with a large number of introjects, not
only does not feel happy, but may also need long-term and laborious work with a

History of introjects study

Who first spoke about introjects? The first study dates back to 1909, and the
founder of the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society, Sandor Ferenczi, became its
author. He considered introjection as a process of dragging objects of the external
world into one’s own self. Ferenczi believed that introjection is most often
characteristic of neurotics: they are characterized by the incorporation of elements
of the surrounding world, accompanied by unconscious fantasy, into themselves.
Shortly, the neurotic simply cannot help identifying himself with some object. His
research suggested that introlets are also found in healthy people; since, for
example, the feeling of love can also be considered the “process of dragging out”
of another person in the “I”.

From a different angle, introjection was considered by Sigmund Freud. The
scientist wrote that introjection is a variation of the twisted reality, which arises
when a person needs to replace one of his values ​​or facets of personality. In this
case, introjects become catalysts for more serious disorders, for example, clinical

How to work with intrusive installations?

Working with introjection is complicated by the fact that introjects are products of
public opinion and stereotypes, as well as the way some parents maintain their own
authority and influence over the child. In fact, the destruction of introjects is a
silent challenge to social norms, therefore for many patients it is associated with
strong feelings and anxiety.

Determining beliefs nature

Before dealing with introjects, you need to understand the very nature of obsessive
and alien beliefs. After all, perhaps you are mistaken, and what is tormenting you
or your patient is not an introject by nature.

For a start, it is worth understanding that introjection is inherent in both adults and
children, however, it is more difficult to interact with old children’s introjects: they
literally grow into a person. Introjects cause obsessive images in people and turn
into a kind of idealized “me” or “super-me,” which leads to changes in the human’s
psychology, regardless of their age at the moment.

Usually, the wording itself produces introjects: “any decent girl should,” “a man
must,” “you should not say bad words,” and so on. To accurately understand
whether a judgment is an introject, ask the question: “Why is that? Why?” If a
constructive answer is not followed, because introjects contradict a person’s
personal life experience.

Advices for overcoming introjection

Irwin Polster, a psychologist and author of a number of scientific publications on
introjects, believed that it was necessary to begin work on overcoming introjection
with a simple dialogue between a Gestalt therapist and a patient. Because, as he
wrote, any experience of enhancing a sense of one’s own “I” is important when
working with introjects.

So, it is important to show a person that there is a
difference between “I” and “you”. For this, Polster offered patients to make
sentences about themselves and about the Gestalt psychologist, starting with the
pronoun “I” and then with “you”. After the exercise, 10-15 theses should be made,
starting with the words “I think that.” After that, the specialist and the patient must
analyze what was said from the introject, and what was a real personal experience.
Another exercise helps in understanding the introjection process. The patient
should be given a sheet of paper with previously printed phrases of the type: “a
good husband should,” “feeling angry, I should,” “all people should,” and other
similar statements.

The person’s task is to complete each one. But it is important
that he does not think for the answers: you need to catch the feeling of either an
unexpectedly new, or the most well-established view of a specific question. Only
then they should proceed to further assertions. Perhaps it is during the work on this
method that the process of introjection will be realized: patients say that in front of
the word “must” a strange tension is formed in the body.

After the realization of introjection comes, you need to understand your own
attitude to the question. Perhaps your introject is not so bad and coincides with the
real opinion. But, most likely, you will have to abandon the old thesis, take
responsibility for replacing “I have to” with “I choose” and “I want.”

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