Sunday Thoughts: How to Spot Psychological Projection

Psychological Projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

Psychological Projection is a mechanism people subconsciously employ in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. It involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with the unwanted feelings themselves. It is the act or technique of defending oneself against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in oneself while attributing them to others. People who are struggling with this issue find its roots in “Arrested Development,” and generally stem from past traumas or disturbances in childhood, adolescent or teen’s family of origin – specifically, to problems in the parent-child relationship in each childhood developmental stage. 

It is natural for one’s ego to protect or modulate the impact of painful feelings and negative impulses, which means we all utilize some forms of Projection at times by design. It is when we chronically use this defense mechanism as a way of coping that mental health can be negatively impacted. The founder of analytical psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, said, “That which you deny, submits you. That which you accept transforms you.” Those who excessively rely on Projection are ultimately more fragile and less resilient to psychological stress and exhibit poor interpersonal track records. Often these individuals exhibit the main component of unhealthy Projection, which is paranoia and are frequently categorized as narcissistic and borderline personalities. Projection involves a form of disassociation, which often leads to a lack of self-awareness and justifying one’s unacceptable actions. 

 General types of Projection:

  1. Neurotic Projection is the most common variety of Projection, and most matches the definition of defense mechanism. In this type of Projection, people may attribute feelings, motives, or attitudes they find unacceptable in themselves to someone else.
  2. Complementary Projection occurs when individuals assume others feel the same way they do. For example, a person with a particular political persuasion might take it for granted that friends and family members share those beliefs.
  3. Complimentary Projection is the assumption other people can do the same things as well as oneself. For example, an accomplished pianist might take it for granted that other piano students can play the piano equally well.

When a person’s mental instability is exhibited by compulsive Projection, there is a pattern that emerges where the transfer of guilt and blame onto an innocent person is exchanged with appropriating their innocence in return. This reversal feeds the weak ego and can often provide the same endorphins rush found in addicted personalities who are often narcissists and borderlines. Without feeding into religious comparisons – this perverse exchange, trade if you will, becomes a way of creating a clean slate for the ego troubled by the reflection of one’s internal conflicts and is for them a form of inverted salvation, albeit minus atonement. Those who project on this level often exhibit impulsive behaviors, inability to be held accountable, and have anger management issues.

What of political Projection?

Political Projection is a particular strategy used by those supporting the Leftist ideologies. This is not to say one only finds Projection on the left, but as a designed political tactic, the left excel. The tactic is to exploit the natural self-loathing, lack of core self, and defense mechanisms of those within their flock and project them as a political weapon to gain power against the opposition. This highly calculated manipulation used by the Left is effective in two key ways. First, it alleviates the individual’s emotional conflict by picking the target, freezing it, personalizing it, and polarizing it, (“Alinsky Rules for Radicals”) for them, and essentially like a drug decreases psychic distress and replaces that feeling with a high and sense of belonging and purpose. It is no longer just the individual’s defense mechanism of Projection, but the collective agreement that reinforces the individual is good, and others have the issue and are bad. Second, since the trick of distorting reality through Projection leans heavily on emotion over intellect, and this primitive interplay allows those who weaponize it the advantage of never having to engage with opponents in a fair, logical, and transparent debate on the merits of their assertions, the emotional appeals to the masses and yields political advancement of agendas.

Projection is a form of disinformation; it constitutes an interpretive distortion of external reality. Those who traffic in political Projection muddy the waters just enough to create a variant known as projective identification. There is no better example of this than Trump Derangement syndrome and, by extension, the “Deplorables” smear. These dark arts of political Projection have created a false perception of Trump’s identity and values, which are literally the internal repertoire of conflicts those projecting feels about themselves. And the reach now extends beyond the one man unto millions of his supporters a mass projection if you will.

Consider just a few of the projections – racist, white supremacist, fascist, homophobic, sexist, violent, intolerant, anti-free speech, liar, anti-science, uneducated, lacking empathy, and corrupt.

The Democrat history is replete with virulent racism from blocking emancipation and civil rights legislative efforts to implementing Jim Crow laws. The left see and feel everything through the prism of race; it is their oxygen and fuels their cognitive dissonance. They insist on hiring and discriminating against people solely based on their skin color – accuses those who embrace a color-blind America of being “racists.” Labels anyone who disagrees with them as a White Supremacist and uses the charge to shut down any debate. They oppose school choice, which proportionately affects minorities, and could not even clap at the SOTU speech when Trump pointed to the lowest African American unemployment in history. Presently they endorse a platform that charges white skin as a deficit that must be legislatively atoned the very definition of racism. Trump did not deliver the eulogy at the former Grand Wizard of the KKK – Senator Robert Byrd’s funeral that would be Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. And it was Congresswoman  Ayanna Pressley saying, “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice.”

Presently, it is the democrat party embracing, funding, and protecting the fascist and violent acts of Antifa, not Trump. It is not Trump supporters burning down cities, murdering or injuring, or tearing down and defacing monuments, nor is Trump calling them to become violent, but the Left has done so with impunity. The left excuse direct homophobic slurs used by the donor base when used in an attempt to degrade a person on the right. Trump has appointed the first openly gay ambassador! The hypocrisy on the Left regarding the #metoo movement is well documented. Trump has not been credibly accused of any such acts and has promoted women in his administration and higher wages that past ones. Look no further than Obamacare, shovel ready jobs, a video started Benghazi and IRS targeted tea Party to Trump is a traitor and colluded with Russia to address who are the lying politicians.

The Left rejects technological advancements that reveal the gestational functions of the fetus and promote abortion on demand up to and including live birth. They lie and say Trump and the right deny climate exits rather than debate the different stances on if Anthropogenic global warming is a crisis and what if any measures should be legislated to offset said crisis. And in the height of lunacy now claim that there is no biological basis for determining the sexes.

So, in today’s highly politically charged and highly politically divided society, debating our points of view with charges and counter-charges are the rule of the day. How can we tell if a person’s critique is merely a projection of their own character? Surely not all criticisms are projections. At the same time, we all project to one degree or another.


No, not all criticisms are projections. And no criticisms are not necessarily bad. Criticisms can be useful, as it can check our own ideas to ensure they are true – iron sharpening iron. When hearing a critique of oneself, here is a quick rule of thumb list to tell if a person is projecting:

  • The critique comes quickly.
  • The critique often does not come with a thoughtful reasonable, logical argument.
  • The critique is done with a kneejerk emotive outburst.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule of thumb. It may depend on the seriousness of the situation and the seriousness of the act. For example, – someone is about to commit a horrible or violent act immediately. The immediacy can also come after a long debate, and one debater gets back into a corner, and then an outburst comes out of the blue.

There are a few Biblical references that address psychological Projection for those of the Christian faith. Matthew 7:3-6, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Luke 6:45 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Now armed with the ability to spot psychological Projection, what of solutions to battle it? Don’t “project” your own sense of outrage of their attacks back onto the toxic person, but don’t own any of the toxic person’s projections either. Projecting back our own conscience and value system onto others has the potential consequence of being met with further exploitation. Perhaps, best to redirect the emotive projected outburst and focus on the argumentations of the original point.

In this environment of tightening political discourse, sharpen your skills.

 RWR original article syndication source.

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  1. I have to admit I have respect for the leftist doctrine of political projection even-though it is evil. The truth is the left are more cunning and ruthless which leaves the right like lambs to the slaughter. All these pseudo – intellectuals who value some sense they must play by Marquess of Queensberry Rules- are oblivious to who their enemy is or its capabilities. You cannot play fair with an opponent that cheats.

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Written by Tom Williams

Born down on the farm in America's Midwest, my early life was spent climbing the ladder via a long career in information technology. Starting as a technician, and after earning a degree going to night school, I eventually found a place working at ATT Bell Laboratories as a software engineer.

Later moving into management and then a long stint in a major management consulting firm working with major banking, telecommunications, and retail companies. Working in various states in America, I also spent considerable time living and working in several European countries - currently expat in France. As a side career, I was heavily involved in real estate development and an avid futures trader. This experience can give one a unique view of the world.

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