Projection as a defense of the Self

Projection as a defense of the Self

The mind has the ability to free itself from the self and place this on another object." Margaret Mahler


  • 1 What is the Projection in Psychoanalysis?
  • 2 Why do we project?
  • 3 Delusional Projection
  • 4 What do you project from others to others?

What is the Projection in Psychoanalysis?

It is called projection when the individual Attributes your desires, feelings, drives, instincts, motives, needs and qualities that represses other people or external agents; This, due to the anguish caused by the constant pressure and conflict between: Superyo, the It and the I, the three basic structures of personality.

In this way, protects the self from undesirable, prohibited or unpleasant personal characteristics for its sociocultural context. It is another type of defense mechanism against neurotic and moral anguish. The objective of this transmutation is to convert: an internal threat of the id or the superego, into an external danger, because I It seems easier to handle it that way. "I dislike you"Could become:"I dislike you" In this way, he transforms his neurotic or moral anguish into an objective anguish. Thus providing the subject with the opportunity to express what he truly feels.

It is important to raise children by being responsible for their own actions, so that they can be more proactive adults and agents of change, both within themselves and within society. This defense mechanism is very common, because at an early age the infant was not taught to look for the motives and causes of his behavior, but instead looked for him in external agents to "subtract charges"; In this way the child learns that he can avoid the consequences of his acts, as well as the reprimands or reproaches, both of others and his own, by elaborating plausible arguments or justifications and putting the cause in others, for acts that he should not “commit” .

Why do we project?

It is said that a person tries to alleviate a certain "discomfort", projecting or attributing his cause to the outside world. A person who thinks he is being persecuted, for example, can justify himself with this belief to attack who is supposedly threatening him, and thus satisfy his destructive and hostile desires.

He gets some pleasure in feeling guilty, because he can believe that his attack is justified, because "he is protecting himself from the aggressions of others", which can be done hand in hand with rationalization, to elaborate justifications with evasive, pretexts and other arguments to avoid responsibility in their actions and thus blame other people, for something that condemns the superego, thus releasing some tension.

Some people who are charitable in the extreme; sometimes they do not act motivated by goodness, in many cases it turns out to be the product of a moral conscience that feels guilty or simply because of the desire to be socially recognized for their compassion towards others. The person who projects or rationalizes is not usually aware of this process, otherwise it would not function as an emancipator of anguish. Only when a non-defensive projection comes into play can understanding be generated with others, as part of the empathic process.

When the person's superego is weakly integrated, he is more willing to blame other external agents.; thus acquiring the person the character of victim; which may make it impossible or diminish the individual to make the relevant changes in his own person and modify his reality, because according to his point of view: what happens to him is not his fault, ”thus diminishing his own power to change.

In the defensive projection, the individual shares his thoughts and feelings with others. Generalizing it with that of others: if the person is dishonest or corrupt, he can justify himself by saying that everyone else is like that too; If you have the belief that "almost all people often have prohibited sexual and sexual adventures," you might use that argument to give in to your drives and instincts. A person fearful of his own impulses of aggressiveness and sexuality, receives some relief in his anguish by attributing that hostility and sexuality in another.

Delusional projection

“When the goal is to dodge oneself, trying to reduce the process of self-knowledge, the pathological process is inescapably present. ”Erwin Singer

There are defense mechanisms that imply a division of reality, such as delusional projection, where delusional personal traits, undesirable feelings are attributed to someone else. This also happens in response to the anguish, conflict or stress implied by their feelings, thoughts or even behaviors that are unique and strange to many, protecting the self from recognizing personal characteristics that are not pleasant.

What do you project from others to others?

They say that "beauty is in the one who sees it", but also the darkest instincts and drives that we glimpse and condemn sometimes so hard on others, can be a shadow or projection of ourselves. Our peers can serve as a mirror, how do you see yourself and how others see you? Sometimes, what is most abhorred and not tolerated in others, is precisely because they are such undesirable or prohibited characteristics for the individual, that he cannot realize that he shares many traits with that person.

Remember that when you point hard at others with your finger, three of your fingers point at you, giving you the triple signal that before judging others, it may be better to try to turn to yourself. Make conscious the projections and be responsible for our person, acts and consequences.

The person who fears his own conscience and feels altered can find comfort in the idea that other people are the ones who are disturbing him. It is advisable to learn to deal with fears objectively. Psychologists can provide accompaniment and therapeutic support in this process of self-knowledge, and that the patient transfers to the conscious many aspects of this type, the subject can change his posture of victim, martyr or even victimizer, and begin to see himself as responsible for his own motives and consequences ... Declare himself the owner of his own energy, his person and his actions! Which is a sign of maturity and growth as a human being.

A person usually has more opportunities to learn to cope with their objective fears, than to acquire the ability to master neurotic and moral anguish." Calvin S. Hall


Projection is one of the most archaic or primitive and most common self defenses; If the observer does not notice his own emotions, drives or impulses, he attributes them to other people or agents outside him. Thus he remains unconscious of these manifestations, subtracting responsibility for himself, for his acts and their repercussions; but also weakening the power to transform oneself, since it can be visualized as a victim of circumstances or people; since the main feature of this mechanism is that the subject of the feeling is changed, which is the same person.

Related Posts:

Freud's Personality Theory: conscious, unconscious, I, It and Superto
The self defense mechanisms, unconscious strategies
Psychoanalysis and self defense mechanisms

Bibliographic references

  • Freud, Sigmund (1981). Complete works. Volume II. 4th. Edition. Spain: New Library Editorial.
  • Bleichmar, N. M .; Lieberman, C. and Cols. (1989). Psychoanalysis after Freud. Mexico: Eleia Editores.
  • Hall, Calvin, S (1990). Compendium of Freudian psychology. Mexico: Paidós.
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