Projection: Analysis

Freud saw pro­jec­tion as a defence mech­a­nism, a way of deal­ing with the thoughts and ideas that make some­one anx­ious. By sub­con­scious­ly attribut­ing these unwant­ed thoughts and ideas on oth­er peo­ple, one may be com­fort­ed by the false fact that they are not alone, or that there is some­one else they can direct their anger towards instead of them­selves. While I don’t dis­agree with this approach to psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic the­o­ry (I’m gen­er­al­ly a Freudian up until his ideas on devel­op­men­tal life stages), this is a much more severe, and less com­mon, form of my expe­ri­ence with pro­jec­tion.

Projection (or pro­jec­tion bias) can be defined as uncon­scious­ly assum­ing that oth­ers share the same or sim­i­lar thoughts, beliefs, val­ues, or posi­tions on any giv­en sub­ject.

In this case, the fault lies in the assump­tion, and the assump­tion is based on the fact that many believe oth­ers to be like them­selves. One may present this as a deduc­tive log­i­cal argu­ment, like so:

Premise 1:
I have felt this way in a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion / I would feel this way in a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion
Premise 2:
Someone else is in this sit­u­a­tion
Therefore, that per­son must feel the same way that I felt / that per­son must feel the way that I would feel

Although audiatur et altera pars is not nec­es­sar­i­ly seen as direct proof of a fal­la­cy, the implic­it premise involved in this argu­ment is also the most impor­tant one.

Implicit premise:
All peo­ple think the way I do when put in the same sit­u­a­tion.

This hap­pens to be the premise that is false. It is also often implied, not on pur­pose, but because (and I’ll haz­ard an opin­ion here) humans are nat­u­ral­ly ego­cen­tric. Many make sol­id judg­ments on things that are pure­ly sub­jec­tive, tak­ing their view as Word. An exam­ple of this is some­one say­ing, “This song is good”, instead of, “I think this song is good”. Sometimes this is the inno­cent result of lazi­ness (of which I can be guilty), but in many cas­es, it’s due to the fact that the per­son actu­al­ly refus­es to believe any­thing else to be true.

It’s in the case of the lat­ter that assump­tions can lead to pro­jec­tion, what I find to be an extreme­ly frus­trat­ing thing to deal with. If I don’t talk to some­one, that does­n’t mean that I nev­er want to talk to them again. For some­one to assume this to be true of me, based on their own thoughts and ideas in the same sit­u­a­tion, and then call me out on this, is ARROGANT. When I’m fresh­ly out of a rela­tion­ship, I feel stronger and inspired. For me, this is an inher­ent side-effect of break­ing up. A break-up occurs due to the fact that there is unhap­pi­ness in a rela­tion­ship, and when the rela­tion­ship ends, there is a tremen­dous free­dom from this unhap­pi­ness. For some peo­ple, the oppo­site is true, and for one of these peo­ple to “com­fort” me because they think I feel worth­less and doubt­ful is INSULTING.

I’ve worked hard to be a bet­ter per­son, to out­grow the weak­ness­es and faults that I’ve grown up with. For some­one to believe that I have a weak­ness or fault that I’ve cast aside, sim­ply because they haven’t yet, is just plain sad. This one hits me espe­cial­ly hard because it triv­i­al­izes the tremen­dous amount of effort I put into self-improve­ment.

And as a result of what? Careless assump­tion. I’m not ego­cen­tric enough to believe that oth­ers think the way I do.

All I ask is that oth­ers do the same.


  1. What would the tech­ni­cal term be for when some­one gets angry at an indi­vid­ual but holds his anger in, only to release it on some­one else lat­er? Is that a type of mis­guid­ed pro­jec­tion?

  2. That’s anoth­er defence mech­a­nism, called Transference. In a sense, they’re both a “pro­jec­tion” of thoughts and emo­tions (as most defence mech­a­nisms may be viewed), but Projection has it’s own spe­cif­ic mean­ing: “Attributing one’s own emo­tions or desires to an exter­nal object or per­son”. Transference is “Either pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive — trans­fer­ing feel­ings cre­at­ed by pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ences from their source on to some­one else”.

  3. wow so intel­li­gent! :) I real­ly like your site, its fab­u­lous :)

  4. I have to say that I nev­er prac­tice this thing you define, this “pro­jec­tion” main­ly because I pre­fer to think that no one else thinks the way that I do, because I am unique. I am bet­ter than any­one else. That is the way I see it.

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