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Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Projection  (Read 6682 times)
Skip
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« on: March 06, 2008, 11:18:54 AM »

Projection

In this workshop we wanted to talk about "Projection".  What is it? Why do BP's do it?  How does it affect NONs?  And, how do we deal with it?

In general, emotionally healthy people base their perceptions on facts.  Projection is basing your perception of reality on feelings.

Projection is a defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others.  Projection is denying one's own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them, often in an accusing way,  to someone else.

Commonly the projection is an exaggeration of something that has a basis in reality. For example, the borderline may accuse you of "hating" them when you just feel irritated. Sometimes the projection may come entirely from their imagination: for example, they accuse you of flirting with when you were just asking for directions to the shoe department. ~ Randi Kreger

Some adults who enter into relationships with borderlines feel brainwashed by the BP's accusations and criticisms. The techniques of brainwashing are simple: isolate the victim, expose them to inconsistent messages, mix with sleep deprivation, add some form of abuse, get the person to doubt what they know and feel, keep them on their toes, wear them down, and stir well. ~ Elyce M. Benham, M.S.

I look forward to hearing from you all.

Skippy
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 06:58:39 AM »

Projection is one of the "big three" behaviors of a BPD that are the most difficult to comprehend, IMHO.  Projection, cognitive distortions, and splitting being the "big three" to me. 

The danger in being on the receiving end of projection is that it can make one question our own perceptions of ourselves.  It's crazymaking, often guilt-inducing, and frustrating at best. 
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 12:24:34 PM »

What I find interesting is that in most buddhist literature and other spiritual studies there is an overwhelming theory that we ALL project. What do you hate about other people? It's something you hate about yourself I have always heard. I have heard it most recently make a little more sense - we judge others for their behaviors and attitudes because it relieves the judgments we have against ourselves.

My whole point being, don't we all project? Is it the degree to which borderlines project that causes the problem? The malignancy of it?
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2008, 02:13:52 PM »

Projection is a defense mechanism, operating unconsciously, in which what is emotionally unacceptable in the self is unconsciously rejected and attributed (projected) to others.  Projection is denying one's own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them, often in an accusing way,  to someone else.


In my uBPsister's case it seens the projection then gives her the right? permission? to paint black, isolate and denigrate the person she is projecting onto. From the position of her most frequent victim, or at least the one with the longest history, so often when the dust cleared she would be the one guilty of whatever she was projecting. But by then the goal had been achieved and the target is perceived as "black" by others. She has been doing this since she was 3-4 years old and is an absolute grandmaster at it.
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2008, 06:14:32 PM »

I cannot express enough how much this website has helped me. My xbp did a lot of projecting but i did not realize this was going on so of course I had many moments of feeling like i was going crazy. I kept questioning my own behaviors and words and have even had thoughts of what is wrong with me? and i was always trying to analyze my thoughts and words better so i could get a good reaction out of him(driving myself nuts Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)) Of course it never worked as he was always projecting, i just didnt realize it because i wanted the relationship to work.
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2008, 09:12:50 PM »

I've used the word in both ways, the one Skip so conveniently enumerated, and in the way Discohornet described it.  I think the difference is one of frequency, intensity, and intent.  For example, if my BPD mother is yelling at my young sister for being a "slut", I may look at her and tell her "You're projecting."  (Might get slapped, too, but back then I woulda considered it worth it.)  On the other hand, one of the reasons I selected my therapist was that she reminded me of a school counselor I'd longed to talk more to, and my favorite poetry professor.  Back then I couldn't have articulated exactly WHY, but it was unusually easy for me to transfer, or "project", those same feelings of gratitude, curiosity, and an expectation of my input being valued on someone I'd really just met.  To a certain extent, my training in forensics would argue that we ALL project - we all form first impressions of people in about five seconds, and since we're dealing with a very limited body of knowledge (appearance and mannerisms) then what is it that our impressions are based on?  However I think it's only pathological when it's consistently malignant and resistant to being changed as new information on a person would warrant it.  It's when it gets stuck on a vicious and unarguable setting that I think it becomes the projection we associate with Borderlines... just my thoughts, though.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009, 01:47:12 PM »

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism.  When anyone (not just people with BPD) is dealing with emotions they cannot handle, sometimes it is a relief to "project" those feelings onto someone else.

For example, say I am having a very hard time dealing with my BPD relationship break-up.  And I really really want to contact my BPD ex but I know that has bad consequences.  But my feelings are a bit overwhelming to me.  A way for me to "cope" with this feeling is to "project" it on to my BPD ex.  And so even though there has been no contact between myself and my ex, I might think that her refusal to contact me is a kind of "re-engagement."  And I might say something like "her unwillingness to contact me is a way for her to re-engagement me."

So even though I am feeling like I desperately want her to "re-engagement" me or contact me, I will attribute those feelings and that intention onto her.  Which in this case can be helpful to me because it reinforces my resolve to NOT contact her.

My 2 bits, Schwing
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Randi Kreger
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 08:55:10 AM »

What I find interesting is that in most buddhist literature and other spiritual studies there is an overwhelming theory that we ALL project. What do you hate about other people? It's something you hate about yourself I have always heard. I have heard it most recently make a little more sense - we judge others for their behaviors and attitudes because it relieves the judgments we have against ourselves. My whole point being, don't we all project? Is it the degree to which borderlines project that causes the problem? The malignancy of it?

Most BPD behavior is rooted in something we all feel or do (except maybe suicide and self harm). We all use defense mechanisms, fear abandonment and so on. The definition of a personality disorder has to do with the intensity, frequence, and the degree to which it affects your life.
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2011, 05:03:12 PM »

My whole point being, don't we all project? Is it the degree to which borderlines project that causes the problem? The malignancy of it?

Yes, we ALL use projection. We all also, to some extent, fear abandonment, get angry, and show all the other BPD characteristics.The difference between normative behavior and BPD/PD behavior is:* The intensity of the defense mechanisms and the degree to which they are being used. BPs use them more intensely and more often.* The degree to which they harm relationships and everyday life. Some people can't get along with other people to the degree that they can't hold a job or have a long-term relationship.
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2011, 03:27:41 AM »

Of all the symptoms of my exBPDbf, this has been the hardest to deal with. He projected consistently over the five years, including all the tactics typically used by BPDs - he told me I was passive aggressive when I was only keeping silent so as not to aggravate his outbursts; he said I was escalating the fight when he was the one doing it; he said I had mood swings when I came home from a stressful day at work and was just a little pensive and tired; and get this, he suggested I needed the outer trimmings such as associating with friends who were arty and literary (I'm a published writer), liking arthouse movies and alternative music, appreciating the arts and culture, etc, to mask my insecurity when he was the one who always felt insecure that he couldn't share in that aspect of my life. 

Richard Skerritt who wrote Tears and Healing said that the process of healing from an abusive relationship involves reprogramming our minds, flushing out those lies that have been told to us that we have believed and that have defined us. It all makes sense now - the extent to which he had brainwashed me!
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2011, 02:37:56 PM »

What is the "proper" response to projection?  I am trying to learn to break the cycle of conflict and use "S.E.T." response.  My initial response though is a knee jerk reaction and strike back: "How dare you, who do you think you are"!  Obviously, it takes a while for my mind to realize that the BPD is Projecting.

Needless to say, the Projection is usually very hurtful and I want an apology, which never comes.  I Forgive and move on, which seems like a license to continue the behavior?  Trying to set Boundaries is more difficult when Projection is usually a result of not letting the BPD have their way. 

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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 03:53:06 AM »

I came accross this article on PubMed and would like some clarification, if possible, on a term used.

Defense Mechanisms Associated with Borderline Personality Disorder
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203733/

I look forward to seeing member comments.

Thank you.

Ian
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2013, 05:29:02 AM »

Projective identification is when projection works to become like a selfulfilling prophecy...  So one could say it is a more elaborate form of projection.

Like if the BPD person is fearful of being left alone by their partner, then projects that to the partner in such a way that it becomes manipulative and makes the partner change his or hers normal behavior and morphs it into the image feared by the BPD party...  

I have seen it in my uBPD bf when he keeps ranting about the fact that he will one day loose me...  And then starts to behave in ways that for sure will make me start questioning our r/s...  If he manages to go all the way, and I choose to leave, then the projective identification will have worked. This however is usually a process that both parties are fairly unaware of...  

It is a psychodynamic term, so it has it's roots in the theories of Freud and his daughter.

I hope this can help somewhat...  

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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2013, 05:40:38 AM »

I forgot...  

Projective identification is also mirroring or projecting what you hate or love about yourself onto your partner, if in ia r/s and then either attacking or nurturing those parts in the other person that really is just projected there by the self...  

The push and pull aspects of a r/s with a BPD can also be counted among the examples of projective identification.

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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2013, 11:36:31 AM »

Everybody on this planet uses some form of a projection. Supposedly, upwards of 97% of our thoughts, beliefs, or perceptions come from our subconscious or unconscious mind. Yet, a "Healthy" person is better able to identity these same projected traits in themselves too which they also may "see" in their loved ones or friends much easier than an "Unhealthy" person.
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 05:15:24 PM »

Projection is one of the most dibilitating factors of my situation.  For years 9+ I was accused of having an affair(s) and causing my BPDw to have self image issues.  This is in spite of there not being a shred of evidence to that fact.  She told me that she had an affair a little over one year after getting married about 6 months before our 10yr anniversary.  I wanted to die.  For 9+ years I took the abuse and accusations and after 2 weeks was grilling me about why I had not forgiven her and given her grace...  ?  She expected me to tell her that I had had an affair while overseas without her for a year(in the millitary) when the fact was that year was the year of the most profound growth spiritually for me.  I had an accountability partner, did nothing that could be considered unsavory by any human standard.  This year was when I tried my hardest to deflect any temptation. 
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« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2014, 03:28:31 PM »

Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts.
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« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2014, 04:26:37 PM »

I always wondered if projection wasn't the guilt of what they were doing, eating at them until they accused us of the same things they were doing.

I am realizing what a mess I am in now with my marriage.  The red flags were there though.

When we dated through the first 5 or 6 years of marriage she endlessly accused me of cheating on her.

She always told me that I didn't love her.  When, the fact was, all I did was work and the rest of my free time was consumed by her.  I did everything I could to she her my love.  Everything I did was just proof that I didn't love her, according to her.

She would get insanely jealous about everyone I talked to.  She would spy on my phone calls, look at my phone bill when we dated, and snoop through everything I had.  Yet, if she did something or said something sexual to another guy and it bothered me, then I was the "jealous" one.

The gaslighting is what really gets me.  She has said stuff to me for years then suddenly deny ever saying them.  What are you supposed to do?

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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2015, 10:29:18 AM »

Hi,I'm new to this forum, but I'm a little embarrassed. Are they aware that they are projecting when they do it? I was so confused at first when my ex started projecting and does projection have anything to do with guilt?

 Hello there, risingup, and welcome! Don't ever be embarrassed about asking questions.

Projection is an unconscious defense mechanism, so the person who is projecting isn't aware that he/she is doing it. (They may come to a realization later, but in the moment, they aren't aware.)

A person who is projecting is typically denying his/her own "badness" by externalizing it onto a partner. This keeps the borderline from feeling painful feelings like guilt, badness, remorse, etc., about him-/herself.

Let's say the borderline is having an affair. The borderline can't cope with this "badness," because to accept that would mean (in the borderline "all or nothing" mindset) that the borderline is bad. So he projects these unpleasant traits onto his partner - accusing his partner of cheating or wanting to cheat, for instance. That way, he can loathe and denigrate the badness without loathing himself.
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« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2015, 10:29:26 AM »

Hi,I'm new to this forum, but I'm a little embarrassed. Are they aware that they are projecting when they do it? I was so confused at first when my ex started projecting and does projection have anything to do with guilt?

They aren't aware of it, and as I found out pretty quickly, there's no use trying to point it out to them.  But yes, as others have noted, it has everything to do with guilt (or really, shame). 

My exBPD was very self-aware and knew that her actions were bad.  She cheated on her boyfriend with me, and from that point on, she just went completely downhill.  She always moved on quickly from relationships, but she hadn't cheated since high school (in between living with boyfriends, she would live with friends or family while she looked for a new boyfriend), and she felt so much shame.  At first, her projections were aimed at her boyfriend.  She basically tried to justify why she was cheating on him.  One time, she told me that he was selfish because he wasn't helping her move into his place and hadn't made space for her things.  I now know that what she was really trying to tell me was, "I'm so selfish.  I've basically moved myself into his place without asking and am now crowding his small room with all of my things."

Eventually, her projections moved on to me.  She called me clingy.  She told me I was psychotic.  She told me I was a poison in her life.   
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« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2015, 02:11:40 PM »

I had an interesting moment of self-awareness regarding projection just now, after reading through bits and pieces of this thread.

I am currently maintaining a friendship with my uBPDex, and my intuition points towards the idea that she is seeing an old friend of mine at the moment. This, of course, is just a feeling, but it has changed my perception of him. His 'bad' qualities seem to stick out a lot more now, and his 'good' qualities have receded from my perspective.

This, I think, is a good example of how I project.

I see his 'bad' qualities more clearly because I too was attracted to her. Could I be projecting 'bad' qualities onto him because I feel that my own relationship with her was a driven by deficiencies in me? I think that the answer is yes. I need to work on accepting facts as facts, and people for who they are. And I need to more thoroughly explore my own core wounds from childhood.
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« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2015, 01:56:45 PM »

Let's say the borderline is having an affair. The borderline can't cope with this "badness," because to accept that would mean (in the borderline "all or nothing" mindset) that the borderline is bad. So he projects these unpleasant traits onto his partner - accusing his partner of cheating or wanting to cheat, for instance. That way, he can loathe and denigrate the badness without loathing himself.[/quote]
HappyNihilist (or anyone else who may have a thought on this),

Regarding your above post... do you think (or know) that whatever is being projected is actually because the person with BPD is/has done that particular thing?  Meaning, if I am being accused of cheating, does that mean my BPDh HAS cheated?  Or could it be just that he's extremely jealous or "afraid of being abandoned"?  There are about 25 people where I work... and only two of us are female... I TRY to avoid telling my BPDh anything that happens at work, whether it be funny or something that made me mad, because 99.9% of the time, the story will involve another male... and that can turn bad, fast!  He is very protective of me (if someone mad me mad or said something he thinks is inappropriate), I have to stop him from coming to my work to "take care of it".  On the other hand, and possibly in the next sentence, he may accuse me of cheating with that person.  I trust him completely, and because we had both been cheated on in past relationships and feel the same about that, I have only once even thought he might be cheating (I was pregnant and hormonal at that time-22 years ago!)  We've been married almost 25 years now, and I've never thought about cheating... never crosses my mind... but I have been accused of it on many occasions.  (I should also mention that he was in a terrible car wreck over 10 years ago and has been disabled and unable to work since.  He's home all day, every day, alone and in physical pain.  I know that in itself has caused him to feel "useless" and "not the man I married".  I'm sure he has plenty of self esteem issues that would tell him there's no reason I wouldn't cheat, because he BELIEVES that he needs me, but that I do not need him.  NO MATTER WHAT I SAY, BY THE WAY!) 

Or if he's accusing me of being controlling... "you always have to do everything your way", is that because he feels that way about himself? 

The controlling thing happens with just about everything I say or do... depending on the day, of course.  Last time he asked me why I did something this way instead of that way, I said, "Of course, if I'M doing something I'm going to do it my way, because that's the way I do it.  And you would do it your way... doesn't make either one right or wrong".  I actually got away with that one!  No argument!  However, that is not normally the case. 

Sorry if I got a bit long winded here... didn't mean to!
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« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2015, 12:54:45 AM »

Regarding your above post... do you think (or know) that whatever is being projected is actually because the person with BPD is/has done that particular thing?  Meaning, if I am being accused of cheating, does that mean my BPDh HAS cheated?  Or could it be just that he's extremely jealous or "afraid of being abandoned"? 

I think it can be either:that they have cheated or they are afraid of being abandoned. I think that it is HOW you are accused that makes the difference. "If you're going to cheat, then I might as well, too." as opposed to "I might as well leave now since you are cheating on me."

Excerpt
Or if he's accusing me of being controlling... "you always have to do everything your way", is that because he feels that way about himself?

Or because he can't or doesn't think he can control himself.  In my H's case, he says that when he was supposed to have done something, didn't so I did, and now I'm controlling. I didn't control anything except my ability to do it myself.

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