Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
Sometimes people who suffer from personality disorders have an unstable view of themselves which leads them to lose track of where their own identity ends and where another person's identity begins. This is sometimes referred to in psychological terms as an Identity Disturbance.
Identity disturbances can sometimes result in a blurring of the lines between how a person with a personality disorder views themselves and views other people in their immediate vicinity. This can sometimes lead them to attribute characteristics of another person to their own personality (a practice known as Mirroring) or to attribute characteristics of their own personality towards other people. This latter practice is known as Projection.
Projection can be relatively benign - such as in attributing one's own likes, dislikes, opinions, beliefs or feelings to another person.
Projection can become malignant when it involves attribution of one's own actions, words, blame, fault, hatred, liability or flawed character onto another.
Projection can be conscious - where the perpetrator knows they are deliberately deflecting blame or liability onto another person. Projection can also be subconscious - where the perpetrator is unaware that they are distorting or dissociating the facts.
Projection can simply be a result of good old fashioned Blaming - where blame or responsibility for a problem is conveniently attributed to another person. Projection can also occur as a result of Dissociation, a departure from reality-based thinking that people who suffer from personality disorders are prone to. It's extremely difficult to prove if a person believes their own statements of projection and therefore it is usually futile to spend much energy trying to determine if they do.
No matter whether projection is conscious or subconscious, it can inflict a great deal of hurt, confusion, fear and loss of self-esteem for its subjects. Nobody likes to be told what they think - even about benign issues. But whenever someone is falsely accused, slandered or held in disrepute, great harm can be done to a person's relationships, self-confidence and sense of well-being.
Acts of projection commonly result in defensiveness, indignation, annoyance, argument or even retribution and retaliation on the part of subjects or victims.
Examples of Projection:
A mother assumes that her children only like the same food that she likes.
An abusive father hits his children but blames his teenage son for the bruises.
A wife empties the joint checking account and accuses her husband of wasting resources.
A mother who is embarrassed about her weight problem repeatedly calls her eldest daughter "fat".
An employer who lacks financial discipline accuses his employees of squandering resources.
Coping with Projection:
Coping with Projection is very similar to coping with episodes of False Accusations except that some of the false statements may initially appear "nice" or "neutral" but can still be irritating, annoying or damaging to your credibility over the long term.
For More Information & Support...
If you suspect you may have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can and surround yourself with support as you learn how to cope.
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