The Perils of Projective Identification and Screaming Cats


EV Gallery is excited to present a solo exhibition by psychologist/painter Patrick Rafferty running June 4-30, 2022. Please join us for an Opening Reception with the artist and New York Jazz Saxophonist Sunhyun Yoo. Read on for the artist’s statement:

In psychoanalysis, Projective Identification is a defense mechanism used to protect the self against self-hatred and other unacceptable qualities one feels about themself.

Projective Identification occurs when one person, unconsciously or consciously hating themselves, verbally or behaviorally projects their self-hatred onto another person, actually into the other person, by means of relational psychological conduits that are unconscious to both people who have a vested relationship.

The other person, not wanting to destroy the relationship and the first person along with it, by rejecting these violent, hateful projections, instead unconsciously identifies with them, taking in the projected qualities and believing that they are the one who actually embodies them.

People who use Projective Identification are often labeled as manipulative.

This would be false, as Projective Identification is a way that two people who are care about each other, protect their relationship from collapsing under the weight of the self-hatred of the first person, even though it tends to destroy the other person in the process.

This brings us to screaming cats.

Screaming cats are, well, cats that are very uncomfortable.

Despite the obvious discomfort of these cats, in these paintings, the cats are continued to be touched in a longing or violent way.

These paintings are part of a collection by Patrick Rafferty who is also a clinical psychologist in addition to being a painter.

He painted them because apparently his spirit animal is a screaming cat. Or it isn’t. He doesn’t know. But he knows that screaming cats have something to do with Projective Identification, sadness, masculinity, and troubled relationships.