Psychological Projection

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Psychological Projection: Dealing With Undesirable Emotions
What happens when you have a whole bunch of uncomfortable, embarrassing and annoying emotions that you don’t
want to unconsciously deal with? According to psychologists these emotions are projected on to other people, so that
other people become carriers of our own perceived flaws. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for us, this form of emotional
displacement makes it much easier to live with ourselves … because everyone else is responsible for our misery – not us!
As a result of externalizing our emotions and perceiving them in others, we continue suffering terribly, often creating
false self-images that portray us as “the victim” or “the good/righteous person” when the reality is that we aren’t.
We all project in our daily lives to protect ourselves against emotions, thoughts and perceptions that we judge as being
too “bad,” “ugly,” “shameful” or “uncontrollable.” Often these disowned aspects of ourselves form our Shadow Selves.
This is why it’s important to identify and become aware of what types of projection impact us the most.
Let's take the help of an example to make this concept clearer. Say you've developed a zit on your face and you're
extremely conscious about it. You enter your workplace with the thoughts about the zit constantly running through your
mind, and just as you enter your work area, your colleagues look up to greet you. Since you're conscious about your
appearance, you immediately think that they're staring at your zit (even though they are not). And then you say
something to the effect of "I know the zit is unsightly, you don't have to stare!" This is you projecting your insecurities
onto your colleagues. The truth is, you're the one who's feeling that the zit is unsightly, but because you can't bring
yourself to accept it, you project these negative feelings onto someone else so that accepting the fact becomes easier.
In projecting these impulses onto someone else, however, there are certain factors involved. The person onto whom the
impulses are projected is not chosen randomly, rather, the quality may have existed on a small scale in that person,
which is later taken and exaggerated upon. For example, a person who is known to criticize others will not only spot
others who criticize, which he does rather easily, but even if they do criticize on an off chance, he will believe that they
are extremely critical and tag them that way.
One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud
famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are
inwardly being stifled. It’s a compelling theory — and there is scientific reason to believe it. In the Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the
suppression of same-sex desire.
It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex
attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of
themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the
targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve
our compassion.
Sources:
Borkar, Rujuta. “Understanding the Psychological Projection Theory With Examples.” Psychologenie, 24 Feb. 2018,
psychologenie.com/understanding-psychological-projection-theory-with-examples/.
Luna, Aletheia, and Aletheia LunaAletheia Luna. “6 Examples of Psychological Projection We All Commit ⋆ LonerWolf.” LonerWolf, 30 Oct. 2018,
lonerwolf.com/psychological-projection/.
M. Ryan, Richard, and William S. Ryan. “Homophobic? Maybe You're Gay.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Apr. 2012,
www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/homophobic-maybe-youre-gay.html.
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