Psychological identification, imagination and psychoanalysis
Identification as a psychological concept is widely used in psychology and in social science. This use relies on an ordinary understanding of what identification is, and this understanding has itself been influenced by psychoanalysis. The concept is, however, in need of philosophical exploration. Central to its use is the idea of character, its nature and its development, which like identification itself is under-theorized. I use Richard Wollheim's philosophical analysis of identification in terms of the imagination, to trace a path from ordinary psychology's conception of characterological identification to the psychoanalytic one. I link this to a short discussion of character as a conception of the self available to reflection. Making reference to some psychoanalytic case material, I defend psychoanalysis’ version of identification and its applicability in psychology and the social sciences.
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