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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Projection  (Read 75592 times)
rickh3255
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2009, 11:38:49 PM »

My example of projection...

My wife became convinced I was plotting to take our two sons and abandon her.  While the 3 of us were coping with her nightly rages, she was talking to family and friends and looking for someone, anyone, to validate her latest crisis and provide an easy escape route.

So, here I am with a family in extreme stress, no plans beyond getting through the next 24 hours, and my wife is looking for a way to take my boys, yet accusing me of using her domestic violence history against her to steal the kids.

Wishing I could use stronger language on this board,

RickH3255
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2009, 10:15:31 AM »

Let me try...was this projection?

My uBPD mother would try on my clothes when I was in highschool.  I was 16, she was 52.  Mom couldn't wear my clothes or would just be barely able to squeeze into them.  She felt "fat" because of this (stupid...a 52 year old mother of 5 should not wear a teenagers clothes).  But because she felt "fat" trying to get into my clothes, she would then tell me I was getting "fat" and needed to go on a diet.

I was not fat and neither was my mother.  But she felt she was and then projected it on to me.  No wonder I became bulimic.   

Michelle
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I wanted a perfect ending.  Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next.~Gilda Radner
blackandwhite
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2009, 07:23:53 PM »

Michelle--yes, that's a good one!

My uBPD mother accused her brother of wanting to steal their parents' money (which she viewed as a future inheritance) while at the same time, she was pulling out the stops to drain money from their accounts to support herself.

She also accused him of being irresponsible and likely to run through whatever money he got; instead, he's a professional doing fine and she's run through her share of the funding.

She accused me of being volatile and dangerous and said she was tired of taking care of me, as I'd been "nothing but trouble all my life." I was a highly parentified child who nursed her through suicide attempts, meltdowns, drug and alcohol abuse, fractured relationships, depression, and on and on. I was also a straight-A student, employed since age 13, happily married, a very responsible mother, with steady relationships, no addictions, and a record of public service. I believe she realized how she looked through my eyes and threw that description right back at me.

Real projection is spooky.  The word "projection" has entered common conversation via pop psychology, but real projection is not just someone saying "you are too" in anger.

Auspicious makes a very critical point. It's spooky because the person who is projecting truly believes it. It's gaslighting, but unconscious. And it stirs up so much trouble in families, workplaces, and other group settings because there are two seemingly valid but totally irreconcilable versions of reality. Am I a volatile and dangerous person? Or is my mother? In our cases to most people (at least anyone who knows me, though there are those my mother will have sold this story to who have never met me) the answer would be obvious because her projections were pretty ludicrous. But what if they were slightly more believable? Or I had just moved to a new place and nobody knew me yet? The more I stood around proclaiming that I was NOT volatile and dangerous, the crazier I would look...it's pretty spooky stuff indeed.

B&W
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What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
Auspicious
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2009, 08:36:09 PM »

In our cases to most people (at least anyone who knows me, though there are those my mother will have sold this story to who have never met me) the answer would be obvious because her projections were pretty ludicrous. But what if they were slightly more believable? Or I had just moved to a new place and nobody knew me yet? The more I stood around proclaiming that I was NOT volatile and dangerous, the crazier I would look...it's pretty spooky stuff indeed.

Exactly ... the problem with that stuff is that most people naturally assume "where there's smoke, there's fire, or at least a cigarette". They figure there must be something to the allegations, or maybe you're both partially at fault, etc.
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georgiatechur
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2010, 01:07:19 PM »

my 22d projects all the time. It si the one of the most maddening traits do this disorder.

She balmes me for my 3 yr gd not being with her. Yes,  I went and took the child and gave here to her father b/c my daughter was putitng my gd in dangerous/negelectful situations. my daughter insists that she can't remember her childhood, but the times she gets angry with me for taking her child away from her she yells that I was not a good mother and "you weren't perfect!" I think it is her won shame over her lack of mothering instincts that she trying to project onto me. The thing is though that for the first year of her baby's life, my daughter was an excellent mother- almost too excellent. So hovering and overprotective. She wouldn't allow the baby to even sleep by herself for fear that something bad would happen to the baby. She did a complete 180 turn by the time my gd was 2 years old..

I have a hard time not being baited by my daughter sometimes. I am still learning. I am still trying to understand.
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Salut
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2011, 01:59:32 AM »

Are projections hard to detect?  For example my H often accuses me of not helping enough with household chores.  He does do a lot of what he thinks is necessary around the house (but which I may not think is necessary, like very frequent trips to the store).  When he does this it feels very much like unfounded accusation, and even if I don't contribute enough, his anger flashes and belittling around this topic seem way overblown to me.  This has confused me a lot.  Could this be some kind of projection and what feelings are being attributed to me?  He seems to be saying I am lazy, so does he fear he is lazy and is angry about that?
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Randi Kreger
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« Reply #16 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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helplessnh

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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2011, 08:20:44 AM »

First off thank you all for being here this site is the best I'm so glad I found it. Projection is big in my house. The problem sometimes is that my soBPD is so good at projecting that she will tell me that I am projecting. She tries so hard to make me think that her projecting is me projecting. It goes back and forth and her past relationships she talks about how they would always project . It's never her its always the other person.
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ennie
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2011, 01:31:38 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?

I think about this issue a lot.  First, I do not think that it is absolutely true that we all ONLY project.  Second, I do think there is a different way that people who have learned a behavior or story in a traumatic context relate to that "story," and later attempt to project that "story" onto other experiences.  

While I feel there is real value in looking to my own experiences to understand my intense feelings about others, especially when my feelings seem inappropriately intense in the present context, or when my response does not help me to get more of what I want, I also think that when someone is yelling at me and telling me they will kill me (as only one person has, the BPD ex of my DH), experiencing her as angry and feeling my heart beat faster is not just projection.  I mean, it is projection to the degree to which I know that when I yell, it is due to anger, and so forth...but I am reacting in part to something that is beyond my experience, that is new to me.  I am not only projecting.  

My perceptions are conditioned by my experience, and so in some very basic way any cognitive process is informed by what I have learned to date.  If I have never been taught what a chair is, I will not recognize one when I see it, and so to the degree I recognize it, it comes in some way from some experience I have had. But even if I have heard of the chair and know it, I may have just heard about the chair, I may use imagination to extrapolate between something similar, and I may just sit in it not recognizing the concept chair, but doing something that is just natural for human bodies to do.  

Likewise, if someone yells at me and I have a hard time with that, that may be because I have learned from my dad yelling at me and withholding affection that yelling is scary; I may yell myself at other times, and feel judgmental of that and thus react more strongly with someone who is yelling at me, or I may have a hard time just because for humans, yelling means possible threat and danger, so retracting and being scared is an appropriate response in our cultural and biological history.

I also feel there is a difference between the way the BPD ex wife in law in my life holds her projections.  First, she is not just extrapolating based on her experience, as I am when I think her threatening to kill me means she is angry and scared.  I am trying to figure out what is happening in her so I can help her to feel better so I am safer.  I am drawing from my diverse experiences.  

My T talks about something he calls a "trauma dialogue," which is a "story" that is learned in a very traumatic situation.  In my DH's BPDex's case, she was seriously abused by her mom and sexually abused by her mom's boyfriends for most of her youth.  She did not find a way to get this to stop, so her rage and anger and manipulations and acting victimized did not give her a reliable sense of power.  Acting victimized was the most effective.  Under that kind of life-threatening trauma, "splitting" is a natural response--trying to separate dangerous from not dangerous, and getting away from the danger...but it is so confusing when the danger is mom, who is also the possible protection from the danger of other abusive adults, not to mention the one who feeds you.  But for some reason, this kind of trauma seems to result in a much more clearly defined "story" and much more rigid adherence to that story.  Few situations in my BPD's life will be as traumatic as those of her childhood, so there are few situations in which there is a strong enough risk to her well being to be forced to evaluate the effectiveness of her "story," which may have been the story that worked better than others she tried to get mom to stop hitting her.  

My T talks about this trauma dialogue being very robust, not being easily altered by new information.  I see my own stories that I project on new situations, trying to anticipate what will happen or to develop an approach that helps me get what I want.   But these projections are somewhat fluid...they are responsive to new information.  My stories are more diverse, and when no story applies, I am able to recognize the limits of my knowledge and learn something new.  The more traumatic the past experience, the more reluctant I am to learn or let go of the associated "dysfunctional" behavior.  But I am still willing to try.  

For the BPD person in my life, she has a really narrow story.  She repeats it over and over.  It is very potent, and she is very attached to it.  She alleges at some point that anyone she is involved with romantically has tried to rape her.  In the past 10 years, all her significant partners have been amazingly decent men, who have not tried to rape her.  But at some point, men did do that to her, when she was very young, and there is a part of her when she is afraid or angry or feels powerless that clings to that story.  She projects her personal history on others.

She also has no tolerance whatsoever for self criticism or criticism of others.  She must be perfect in her own and others' eyes.  We all want to be perfect, but the consequences of me failing to be perfect as a child were low, and were not terrifying or hugely traumatic.  The worst that happened is that my daddy would yell at me a lot.  So I am willing to see me as not perfect.  

The BPD person in my life is not able to take that in, so she projects in such a direct way.  She is not finding the same fault in others as she feels in herself so she does not feel too alone, she is unable to accept herself as someone who does that thing, so she just assigns that to someone else.  My SD6 told me of a conversation between SD10 and  her BPD mom in which SD10 was whining, BPD mom was yelling at her A LOT, and SD!) said, "Please do not yell at me!" and BPD mom said, "I am not yelling.  You are the one who is yelling."  BPDmom also had modeled by her mom making others at fault for her feelings.  

Finally, there is the enmeshment issue.  I see my SDs responding to trauma that their mom creates in their lives by merging their feelings with their mom, by ignoring their own inner life and focusing exclusively on maintaining mom's well being, so that she will not traumatize them.  Mom's feelings are expressed as their own.  This looks like projection, or like the reverse of projection.  I imagine BPD was far more enmeshed with her mom, who was far more terrifying than she is.  So now, if she has a strong feeling, there is no difference between her intense feeling and others' imagined feelings.  She has profoundly killed her own inner life to take care of a dangerous mom, and now she is an adult and just does not have an "unenmeshed" reality from which to draw.  

This is how I see this stuff, anyway.  I still do not get it at times...when BPDmom alleges that we let her kids go to big parties and witness drunk adults...but we actually have NEVER done that in our memory, and do not drink much or hang out with heavy drinkers--but SHE does drink a lot, and parties in front of the kids...this is so confusing.  Partly, I just think, does she not get that making a big issue out of this will call attention to HER problem?  Normally, people are sort of covert in accusing others of problems we have, we are sort of sly.  But this woman does not get it somehow, and just bursts out with some accusation.  But for us, this is useful...she is unlikely to call up and say, "I have been feeling like I am about to be abusive with the kids," but when she calls and accuses us of being abusive out of a blue sky, we know to think...Hmmmmm, perhaps this is a sign that we need to look at what is happening at mom's house...
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Salut
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2011, 11:49:27 AM »

Helplessnh,

I totally understand the rock and a hard place comment.  And it makes me feel guilty because there is some truth in what he says.  I work longer hours than he does and am more invested in my career, so he does pick up some chores because he has more time.  Then when he starts yelling and is sarcastic and belittling, I don't feel like I should be rewarding him by changing how I'm doing things. 

Sometimes I wait a few days and then make some changes to address what I think I heard.  It helps a little but there is always something else and a lot of his complaints I have no control over, although he finds a way to blame me.  The best thing I have found so (as advised on this website) far is to walk away and believe it has nothing to do with me.  Harder when he makes me feel guilty. 
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