From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Psychological projection or projection bias (including Freudian Projection) is the unconscious act of denial of a person's own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, the government, a tool, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings.
Projection is considered one of the most profound and subtle of human psychological processes, and extremely difficult to work with, because by its nature it is hidden. It is the fundamental mechanism by which we keep ourselves uninformed about ourselves. Humor has great value in any attempt to work with projection, because humor presents a forgiving posture and thereby removes the threatening nature of any inquiry into the truth.
Paleo-anthropologically speaking, this faculty probably had survival value as a self-defense mechanism when homo sapiens' intellectual capacity to detect deception in others improved to the point that the only sure hope to deceive was for deceivers to be self-deceived and therefore behave as if they were being truthful.
One modern, radical view of projections is that they are prerequisites for normal social functioning. Persons incapable of ascribing their own feelings to themselves have great difficulties in understanding them. Unfortunately, human beings have done great harm laboring under the delusions of projection. This is especially true for historical cases of projection between ethnic or cultural groups, for example in Apartheid or Nazism.
In classical psychology, projection is always seen as a defense mechanism that occurs when a person's own unacceptable or threatening feelings are repressed and then attributed to someone else.
An example of this behavior might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and redirect their libidinal satisfaction by attaching, or "projecting," those same faults onto another.
Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.
In psychopathology, projection is an especially commonly used defense mechanism in people with certain personality disorders:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Defense mechanism
- Projective identification
- Psychoanalytic theory
- Reaction formation
- Shadow (psychology)