He would regularly tell her she was rubbish at her job. In fact she was very successful and doing well at work. He on the other hand was frequently out of work for various reasons including falling out with senior managers and not following instructions properly. He would also accuse her of being selfish despite the fact that she was the main breadwinner during the marriage as well as taking charge of the majority of household chores. He did not help out in the house because he did not see it as his role. The verbal attacks on her would leave her feeling upset and vulnerable and she felt powerless to respond.
Projection from a psychodynamic view point is an unconscious defence mechanism whereby one person (in this case the husband) feels so bad about themselves that they cannot hold on to or accept their own thoughts and feelings. They then mis-attribute them to another (in this case the wife). What then happens is the person to whom the attributes are placed takes on the unaccepted feelings of the other. So when the wife felt vulnerable and upset what she was in fact experiencing was the psychological internal state of her husband. Her reactions to him were a reflection of her own vulnerabilities, the “counter-projection”. Her husband was not able to respond to her feelings of being upset nor admit to her about how he really felt.
Projections often happen at times of crisis and stress where the feelings become unmanageable. Rather than admitting, accepting and owning your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours it is easier to put them out onto someone else. Usually someone close. I’m sure you might have heard the expression : “throwing your shit at someone else”.
Blaming is another good example of projection. Pointing the finger of blame on someone else for your own perceived failings.
“It’s your fault I am out of work” was another statement this friend regularly heard from her husband.
Because projection is an unconscious process it happens automatically and is not usually planned or well thought out. It is a defence to protect the ego/self identity of a fragile personality type.
So, if you are ever confused by the accusations of another look at what you are being accused of. Ask yourself if there is truth in what they say. If you cannot relate to the statements/verbal attacks see if they relate more to your partner/other. If they do then this is a clear example of projection.
The problem with projection, and what makes it so difficult to handle is the fact that this take place on an unconscious level in all parties. So therefore, when you are the receiver of “the shit”, you end up feeling so bad that makes it difficult to understand or respond to.
If you are aware that you project yourself onto others in a negative way then please know that none of us are perfect and its ok to get things wrong in life. Try to talk about how you really feel with someone you can trust.
I would be interested in your views on this please or any experiences that can help others to understand the many forms projection can take.
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