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Author Topic: What Is Projective Identification?  (Read 3101 times)
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« on: September 11, 2011, 10:26:23 AM »

What is Projective Identification?

by Kevin O'Leary, Psy.D. Julie Cradock O'Leary, Ph.D.

www.drs-oleary.com/page.cfm?pgId=69

Projection is the unconscious act of attributing something inside ourselves to someone else.  Usually, but not always, the "thing" we are projecting is an unwanted emotion or attribute.  For instance, if John does not feel good about his own body image, he may see Mark and and think to himself, "Hmmm, it looks like Mark has put on a lot of weight."  Now, if Mark has in fact put on a lot of weight, John would simply be observing reality accurately.  If Mark has not gained weight, we could safely assume that John is projecting his own perceived unattractiveness onto Mark.  John, by projecting onto Mark, is also distorting his own ability to perceive reality clearly.

Projection occurs inside one person's mind.  In the above example, the projection is occurring inside John.  Mark may be walking past John and not have a clue what is going on regarding John's perceptions of him.

"Projective Identification" becomes a two-person process.  Let's use the above scenario, but this time let's have John and Mark interact.  Let's say that John meets Mark, greets him, and then comments to him "You look like you've put on weight."  Mark, quite understandably, may feel hurt, and/or angry, and/or embarrassed by this comment.  The cause of Mark's uncomfortable feelings, however, should be scrutinized closely, because it is at this moment that we must decide if this pair are accurately perceiving reality or if they have entered into a shared delusional state.  If Mark has indeed gained weight recently, his uncomfortable feelings in the wake of John's comments may simply reflect his own feelings about the state of his own body.  If Mark has not gained weight recently, we might say that he has become identified with John's projection of uncomfortable feelings about body image.  Thus, Mark comes away from the interaction feeling hurt, angry, and embarrassed, when he in fact has nothing to feel hurt, angry, or embarrassed about.  He literally gets stuck "holding the bag" of uncomfortable feelings that do not even belong to him in the first place.

Assuming Mark has not actually gained weight, we could say that he has every right to perhaps be offended by John's somewhat rude comment, but it would make no sense for him to worry about his body image, since there is apparently nothing to worry about.  :)espite this, it is easy to imagine how Mark may go home and begin looking in the mirror, worrying about the way his clothes fit, or anxiously schedule his next gym workout.  If the situation played out in this fashion, we could begin to see the dangers in identifying with the projections of others:  we literally begin to lose our ability to trust our own perceptions, views, thought, and feelings.  We begin to lose a fundamental grasp of the contents of our own minds.  This speaks to the fundamental importance of being able to trust one's self, and to form effective boundaries in the face of projections that are launched at us.

And launched they are, all the time, by virtually everybody.  All of us project; we all have aspects of ourselves we wish to be rid of, and we all have unconscious dynamics, so it's inevitable that we engage in this reality-bending endeavor.  We all also have weaknesses in our interpersonal boundaries, which means that we are vulnerable to identifying with certain types of projections.  When this happens, we enter a shared space of delusion with another person.  For obvious reasons, it's not wise to proceed through life sharing a belief in lies.

Many important relationships in people's lives can be partially or wholly built on projection and projective identification.  One common coupling that contains this dynamic is the pairing of the constantly frustrated critic with the seemingly incompetent, bumbling partner.  Employers and employees, married and dating couples, and parents and children often bring this matrix of projective identification to their ongoing relationships, much to everyone's discomfort.

Part of the point of psychotherapy is to begin wondering what life would be like, indeed what life would feel like, if the respective partners in the couple could step out of their projecting or identifying roles.  What would actually happen if the boss didn't know it all?  Or if that chronically incompetent employee could actually succeed once in a while?  It is often hard for the chronically "wronged" spouse in a marriage to take a look at his or her contribution to an ongoing problem.  However, the old adage of needing two to tango is often applicable in such sustained problematic relationships.

Of course, it's not surprising to think that stopping the problem in such relationships involves stopping the projective process, which in turn means helping someone accept and work on the distasteful aspects of him- or her-self that have been previous not thought about but simply projected.  Who wants to look at one's own ugly parts?

Hopefully all of us.  It seems the only way to live a logical and sane life, and certainly to be in logical and sane relationships, is to learn to contain our unwanted feelings, not pass them off to someone else.
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2011, 11:03:13 PM »

Another example:

A parent feels insecure about his masculinity, fearing secretly and perhaps unconsciously that he's "not enough of a man." Since his son was small, he has treated him in ways he thinks are good for the son, to "toughen him up." When he sees a softer side to his son, it triggers anxiety. He says things like, "don't be such a girl." ---> projection

The son, learning about the world around him through his parents, sees his father's doubt and shame. He wonders what it is about him that is "girlish" and "not enough of a man." He grows up with doubts about his masculinity. ---> projective identification




1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

2. What role(s) have you played in the process?
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 07:33:19 AM »

My uBPD momster used to tell me how fat I was as a child.  So I grew up thinking I was fat.  In reality my mother thought she was fat but projected it on to me and when I look at pictures of myself as a child I can see that I was never fat.  Thanks mom for the eating disorder and the years in therapy it took me to overcome.

Fast forward to the present, my sister is projecting her fear of being fat not to her daughter but to her daughter's best friend.  I made it clear to my sister that I was uncomfortable discussing the weight of a 10 year old child.  It really bothered me that this subject was brought up time and time again, especially since the child is not over weight but my sister is packing on the pounds.
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 08:45:30 AM »

Here's an example from Wikipedia:

Quote from: Wikipedia
An example of projective identification is that of the paranoid schizophrenic who develops the delusion that he is being persecuted by the police; fearing the police, he begins to act furtively and anxiously around police officers, thereby raising the suspicions of police officers, who then begin to look for some grounds on which to arrest him. In such instances, 'they unknowingly project bits of their parents in their negative, punishing, powerful aspect on to the police... .the family policeman in their heads'.[13]

An even simpler one - your SO believes, acts and talks as if you were "angry all the time, cold to me, unloving." Of course, having your SO project negative false beliefs onto you can trigger anger in you, eventually result in less than warm feelings, and make it hard for you to show love.


Again from Wikipedia:

Quote from: Wikipedia
Projective identification, in a way, validates one's projection by making the projection real. This is the benefit of the defense. By inducing the projected experience in another, one is more able to avoid the reality that the projected content is part of one's own experience.

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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2011, 08:50:30 AM »

My STBXH was a master projectionist.  And during our 20-year relationship, I became the poster child for projective identification. 

His favorite projection was name-calling and hurtful insults, specifically calling me a "fat, lazy b****."  There was a grain of truth to it as I had gained weight, tended to lack ambition (partly because there was no point to trying, I would never do it to H's liking), and snapped back at him on rare occasions (pushed to my limits, I might respond to H's "Go to hell!" with "I live in hell!".  So I worked hard to treat my genetic disease that made weight easier to gain than to lose, lost 50 lbs over 3-4 years.  I forced myself to do home-projects "his way." And tried hard to speak kindly and sweetly.

Guess what?  He was/is still BPD.  Still called me his favorite name, adding more to it when I spoke softly in response (classic extinction burst).  Even when I knew I was thinner, more energetic and accomplishing things, and being the best JDoe I could be with God's help, he continued to call me "fat, lazy b****."  I knew in my head that it was an incorrect label.  I radically accepted that he was mentally ill and that label had 0% to do with me. 

The extinction burst continued so long, after I learned and got stronger and set a few basic boundaries, that I left.  I had to peel off layers of stinking, rotten labels and projections and projective identification until I found me.  I am still discovering the girl I was 20 years ago, and always was deep down inside.  I like her.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

My part in that mess was accepting the "Hello, My Name Is:" stickers that STBXH slapped on my shirt.  If I had put a boundary on not hanging out with someone who calls me names and insults me, perhaps it would not have gotten so bad.  Hindsight being so 20/20, there were at least a million Red flag/bad  (click to insert in post).  Growing up with an uNPD/BPD sister, I thought that some folks were just a little difficult and that love would conquer all.  Silly girl.
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 09:05:56 AM »

Super important aspect, IMHO:

Quote from: article


All of us project; we all have aspects of ourselves we wish to be rid of, and we all have unconscious dynamics, so it's inevitable that we engage in this reality-bending endeavor.  

"She's the one who's so over-emotional."

"He's the one who's angry all the time."

"She's the crazy one."


It is very possible for us nons to over-focus on mental illness in our partners, to interpret everything that they do through that lens, and to refuse to ever see anything less than ideal in ourselves, choosing instead to locate the source of all conflict within the mentally ill person in our life.

Which not surprisingly, doesn't exactly help that person calm down and make better choices themselves.


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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 10:14:58 AM »

Excerpt
1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

The person in my life that suffers from BPD is the mother of my stepchildren.

She will sometimes have feelings (insignificant, unfit, overbearing) as a parent and will "project" perhaps by being overly critical of the parenting skills of my husband (and myself).  We/He/I can, of course, identify with the projection when there are definitely insecure feelings when it comes to being a parent. (Perhaps above the normal range when it comes to questioning your skills as a parent - i.e. "am I doing the right thing?"

It can become a nasty cycle of judgemental thinking and criticisms of the other parent... .which isn't really what good [divorced] parents do.       

~DreamGirl
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2011, 10:56:35 AM »

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

It is very strange to me to look back and understand what was really going on after the fact. I perceived things so incorrectly I really was in the dark. I projected that she had very deep feelings for me and wanted the relationship to work. I thought that was what her frustrations were all about. The truth, In my mind, was what she told me in the end. That our relationship frustrated her and her feelings for me changed. She covered them up to make me happy at times but underneath it all her anger at me was real. This is obvious to me in hind sight. I couldn't see it while I was enmeshed with her.

She projected that I didn't do enough for us. I made all the money and paid the bills. She was going to help with our house. Pursue some hobbies. Do some gardening. Prepare to have a child. She did this for about a month after moving in and then began to drift her own way. She got mad at me for not planning social stuff with her. I tried to get her to plan for us but she would always leave it to me to do. Even though I was working and she had spare time. When I did plan something for us she would ruin it about 60 percent of the time with a temper tantrum. The 40 percent of the time it went smoothly we seemed would go through a good period. She would start to feel close to me and it would trigger her abandonement fears and there would be a major acting out period where I would withdrawal and become distant.

2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

I did not accept reality. I didn't take her actions at face value. I made excuses in my mind for them and told myself she really did feel deep love and commitment towards me. She never really showed it though.
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2011, 11:15:03 AM »

What is Projective Identification?

by Kevin O'Leary, Psy.D. Julie Cradock O'Leary, Ph.D.

www.drs-oleary.com/page.cfm?pgId=69

When this happens, we enter a shared space of delusion with another person.  For obvious reasons, it's not wise to proceed through life sharing a belief in lies.

Interesting topic and this is actually the very thing I've posted about before on the staying boards.  It's the lies that people believe about me and therefore project onto me that I feel the need to correct.  It's the defense against projecting that really gets my goad and makes me want to JADE... .  This whole thing is the very crux of my sticking point in progressing in any real positive steps.

What is Projective Identification?

by Kevin O'Leary, Psy.D. Julie Cradock O'Leary, Ph.D.

www.drs-oleary.com/page.cfm?pgId=69

Of course, it's not surprising to think that stopping the problem in such relationships involves stopping the projective process, which in turn means helping someone accept and work on the distasteful aspects of him- or her-self that have been previous not thought about but simply projected.  Who wants to look at one's own ugly parts?

So what can we as projection identifiers do to resolve this issue.  If getting the projection to stop is not the answer, as we have no control over what another does, says, thinks, feels or believes then it becomes incumbent upon us to change our identification with the projection, so what suggestions does anyone have to help us to change this identifying pattern?

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

OH MOST DEFINITELY I see at work in my R/S.  As I stated above, this is the very thing at work in me that has me stuck from progressing.  I want to defend against the projection, and therefore I ALSO want to stop my SO from projecting her crap onto me.

2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

Well obviously the first role I have played in this is that I identify with the projection.  The second role I play in this is that I don't really evaluate very well in the short nanoseconds that it takes to identify when this dynamic is at play, first and foremost, but secondly I don't evaluate very well in that short amount of time whether or not there is any truth to what is being projected on me.  I take a lot longer to process things and it's usually after the fact that I realize or recognize, or more than likely have the courage to admit to my wrongdoings.

Good post guys!

SWI
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2011, 11:59:12 AM »

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

On many levels.  Since we all agree it is easier to see it in our pwBPD . . . My deceased FIL mentioned to my W's sister, when she was younger that she should watch what she ate because she was getting fat (she wasn't, she was a multi-sport H.S. athlete).  My W heard that and vowed she never would get fat.  In college she did.  Now she suffers from minor eating disorders and poor body image.  She now talks about our D10 "she's starting to get thick.  We need to watch what she eats."  Last Dr. visit she was 75% in height, 50% in weight.  Sounds good to me.  She also routinely comments on D5's "pot belly".  So far only a little bit has made it to the girls, but D10 did start looking at herself for a while thinking she was getting big.  I worked with her immediately and it seems to have calmed down.

In my r/s the projections move so fast and change so quickly it is hard to keep up.  The most common is my W doesn't love herself, so she projects that on to me "you don't love me."  This can occur at any time even after we have had a good time.  Often I take that on and either feel like I'm not a good husband, or "why bother, it never makes a difference" which then validates her feelings of being unloved because she picks up on everything (real or imagined).

2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

I've tried to break the cycle with my daughters, but struggle more in my r/s with her.

I think my biggest role is buying into the belief that I'm not being a good husband, and not being a strong Christian man for her.  I take on her projection of her feeling like a failure as a wife and allow it inside, and then feel like I'm doing a bad job.  I get external affirmation from people that know me and see us a lot, but still struggle with the constant message from the person I'm around the most.

I wonder if I'm projecting.  Can a person see their own projections if they are subtle?

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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2011, 12:02:58 PM »

This can get confusing, but for me, a simple example would be:

I am home feeling good, having a good day.

Ex comes in the door, he has a 'look' on his face that indicates he is angry or irritable.

I ask is everything all right?

He snaps back in an irritated fashion... .yes, why do you ask?

"Oh, just thought you looked a little pissed off when you came through the door... ."

He rolls his eyes in disgust... .

"What's that about?"  I ask... refering to the disgusted look... .

He replies calmly... ."you know what, if you have a problem or are having a bad day, please don't make it MY problem... .I don't want to be grilled when I come in the door... ."

Now I'm AM the one who is angry and irritated and I take the bait and express it.  I start JADING all over the place... .pissed off... .

 I was perfectly fine the whole day... .w/n 5 minutes of him walking in the door I notice he looks angry and in less than 5 minutes I am acting out HIS anger for him... .but I did a dance WITH him, and w/n minutes I was ACTING OUT in a dramatic fashion his own disowned feelings.   He was able to off load his own uncomfortable feelings, disown them, and faciliate MY ACTING out his angry feelings for him... .he didn't make me do it... .he did work to unconsciously faciliate or encourage my participation... .but utlimately it was my choice to participate.  I t was my choice to identify with his projection and to act it out.

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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2011, 12:09:06 PM »

I have not heard of projective identification before. In reading this thread, I realized that one of the big issues I'm trying to overcome in my life is actually identifying whether something is projective identification or a true statement.

E.g. I've been dealing with a boss who thinks that almost everyone, including me, is "too sensitive". And the problem is that I am more sensitive than other people but I also have a lot of strength. I've been wearing the "too sensitive" name tag for awhile and I think I'll take it off and remind myself that I am quite capable of being strong.

In counseling, I've been working on assertiveness and boundaries. I think I'll mention projective identification to my counselor.
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 12:17:15 PM »

Hey All!

   I am very interested in this subject and was glad to see the article. I am unsure though, how we should react when we do in fact know that our partner is projecting. For instance this morning, I woke up rested and looking forward to a good day. I am a morning person and frequently sing or whistle while getting ready for work. That's how I was today. Conversely, H is not a morning person, claims to sleep little, and usually wakes up crabby. I usually ignore his attitude, and go about my business as if I don't notice. I'm not always successful, but for the most part, don't let his mood effect mine. We had little words exchanged between us this morning, and it was obvious that he was stewing about something. I kissed him goodbye (not returned), and off I went. He just called me, and before I could get hello out of my mouth, he says:

H: Why are you being so distant?

M: What have I done to make you feel that way?

H: I don't know, I just feel that way.

M: If you feel that I am being distant, that must be hard for you.

H: I just hope you aren't in a bad mood when you come home tonight.

M: I'm having a great day, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

So, was this perhaps projection? He felt upset about something and he wants to make it seem like I am the one who is upset? How do I respond to this when I know I am not?

Best Wishes,

Val78

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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2011, 12:23:51 PM »



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

Yes... .as above... .


2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

I project, too.  I projected alot of romantic scenarios onto him, I projected that he loved me the way I loved him.  I did a lot of 'positive' idealized projection... .I have to think about how I projected my negative feelings onto him, but I know I did that.  Being w/ a person I felt was mentally ill, for a long time, took the focus on my own process, he was always creating such drama... .that I didn't have to look at myself.  

Also, I am learning that the need to paint myself all white all the time, makes me a pefect set up for projective identification.  We all have our dark sides. We all can feel anger, agressiveness, hate, jealousy, envy, bitterness... .uncomforable feelings.   I notice a pattern of myself and nons on the board saying things like "I would NEVER, I am not THAT kind of person, I never HATE... .I can't even IMAGINE doing THAT."  Well, imagine it.  Cause if you are alive, you have felt it all.  So own it.  We get into black/white thinking.  We do the "them/us" thinking.   I think in my relationship, as I grew more comfortable with what really is my own 'dark side' and sort of 'got over it' (through this board and in therapy)... .I was less easily baited or triggered by this process of projective identification... .or could see more what was mine when it was mine, and what was his, when it was really his.  If he was dumping on me, I could just let it go and walk away... .I didn't have to be right all the time.  One thing I have learned from my relationship with my ex... .is that we all can be total jerks from time to time.  And it's okay.  As a non... .we don't have to be 'pefect' and we are not 'perfect' at all.  The more you embrace your dark side, the less negative projection you will put out there on others... .and vice versa. It is a process... .I don't have it all solved!  

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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2011, 03:18:28 PM »

Interesting post. I like the article.

I am always told that I am angry... .even if I just laughed at something. I have been told that I am angry, cold, hateful and unloving. I have been told this enough that while I am still neither of those projections, I probably start to 'act' like he thinks I am.

He tells me, "Look at you, you are so cold and hateful." I don't react and say, "OK, that is how you see me." and this response just reinforces his projection. The fact is, I am just too exhausted to fight about it!

Funny, I didn't realize this til now, but I see people project on their pets all the time. "Oh, my horse looks tired today, he must not want to be ridden."   Why don't they just admit that they don't want to ride themselves? Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2011, 09:47:27 PM »

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

YES. This has been a major focus of my working with Radical Acceptance with my BPDDD25. I had to make physical space from her for a long low contact period in order to see it though - to be able to see the part I play in our r/s too. I project just as much as she does. Not having her around for awhile really made me aware of how much I dumped my stuff on her and how she dumped her intensity on me.

The other important thing I have an awareness of is that when she is the most abusive to me in her projections, and I am in a strong enough place with myself to be aware of her process to protect my 'self' and not identifiy with her accusations, it can really allow me to listen and respond in a more validating way and her distress has some potential of subsiding. The thing I say to myself is 'she can own all these overwhelmingly intense emotions and just want to not wake up tomorrow or she can blame me - ie. project - and survive. It is a survival strategy - not a very effective one in most relationships, but she has survived.


2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

When I am tired, stressed, ill, having a bad time in any way and filled with my own survival strategies - ie. I am the one doing lots of projection, only DD rarely accepts the role of projective identity as she flings it right back at me with finesse - then things can easily erupt like a volcano. Look up 'victim triangle' and you will get a good picture of how the role dance can go here.


The nice part of my life in the moment, and I am in a really tired, ill, stressed place lately, is that DD is doing better and I am the one that needs to get to therapy. I am also a work in progress, and hope to be doing better as well soon.

A lot of this is about awareness to me - that is the first step to getting out of this cycle with others in my life. The pwBPD is just so much more intense and in a more far far away reality more so than me (at least at times).

Maybe I will read and think on this some more.

qcr xoxo
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2011, 05:51:15 AM »

A very interesting topic,and what i love about this place - that we become aware of behavior that we would rarely  question , but is around us on a daily basis whether it be a SO or workmates etc. Dawn made a very good observation of how people project on their pets - i have seen this many times too. Good article.
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MaybeSo
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2011, 01:11:14 AM »

Parents project onto their kids, too. I saw a 10 yr old client this week. On way into session mom says "he needs to talk about my court battle with his dad, it's all heating up this week and it's been very very upsetting for him."  Mom certainly looked very upset.  Get kid in session:

Are you feeling upset or anxious about what mom mentioned?

Kid: nope

Do you feel like talking about it?

Kid: nope

Are you worried about it?

Kid: rolls eyes. 'nope'... .yawn

What do you want to talk about today?

Kid: my new video game.

Shall we just let mom deal with the grown up court stuff and talk about your new video game instead?

Kid: yea!
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« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2011, 10:23:21 AM »

There is a situation currently at my work place where this is happening:

In our contract, we have a 10 minute washup period at the end of our shifts.  One of the supervisors consistently (daily) schedules people for activities that run until the very end of their shifts.  We have a shift overlap and so there is no need for people to be scheduled till the last moment of their shift on an activity when we have 15-20 people who are just starting their shifts who can cover these activities.  The overlap shift is then scheduled to relieve the others at the top of the hour.  Thereby causing an extreme amount of dischord amongst the staff because they were not given their washup time.  

The comment that is consistently made is "I don't get to leave to wash up, so neither do you. You are paid until the top of the hour so quit whining."

Then when these people grumble, make comments etc... .this supervisor runs to the Chief and complains that no one likes her and people say mean things about her.  

And then in turn, she schedules everyone purposely again over and over again to retaliate.

It's a self fulfilling prophecy for her - she perceives that everyone hates her, yet she does nothing to change it and instead makes sure to do things that people will dislike so that she can continue to run to the Chief to complain about how everyone "hates" her and says mean things about her.  She very much seeks the attention from a 'victim' perspective.  

FYI - she is the only supervisor who schedules people their last hour with a task that they would not be afforded wash up time.

What I have done to curb it:

As an employee, I have just rallied the troops together and made arrangements with the overlap shift to cover off people who are on the earlier shift during that last hour with the agreement that when it is reversed, we will do the same for them.

I have just explained to others that this is simply something that she does, but we can all work it out ourselves.  I seems to have helped a little to alleviate their concerns, however it still does not stop them from talking poorly about her.  I can't change that - it is what it is.

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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2011, 10:59:36 AM »

1. Do you see this process of projective identification at work in your relationship with a person with BPD?

My uBPH spouse raged at me for being "unloving, self-fish, whore, slut, a loser, cold, self-centered, egotistical, controlling, jealous, angry, hysterical, a rager, mentally ill, cruel, demanding and a superiority complex"... .having those words flung at me daily for at least a week every 3 weeks (first 2 years after marriage) I was devastated by them and wondered if there was truth to it.

And since he hurled them frequently at me once I had stopped interracting with most of my friends and family (as I did not want to give him any more stress than he already had from work and a hostile divorce - yup FOG) it was not difficult for me to start reflecting those behaviors back at him.  Then thankfully he added, "everybody hates you, you fight with everyone, you don't have lasting relationships, you lose friends easily, you don't get along with people, your family doesn't even want to deal with you." Nothing was further from the truth than those words but his parents and sister had stopped talking to him, he had no childhood friends or friends from college, he did not hang out with anyone in particular and his boss had told him that he needed to work on his micr0-management skills as he was alienating people.  So I say thankful because I think that projection of his own situation helped me realize that he had a serious problem or he was just plain old abusive.

I did not realize how much I had internalized all of his insults until I found I got pregnant and found myself acting super jealous and crazy, BPD like, to the point where he could easily point the finger at me and say that I was histrionic and mentally ill.  I think the pregnancy triggered my resentment and anger towards him for the change in my lifestyle (no friends and family around anymore) plus he really started to distant himself when I got pregnant which of course angered me as my expectations were not met. And when our first baby was born he got worse, push/pull.

Ironically it was not until I gave up and said fine, I'm the one with the problem and started intense therapy with the goal of leaving him that it became quite clear how unstable he was/is and that he is most likely uBPD.  And that all his insults that were hurled at me without basis were really just a description of himself. But he hide's his true self really well at work and in general... .but the intimacy our marriage and children afforded him was too much so he did everything to distance himself. 

Bottomline, I used to say we switched personalities, classic projective identification. As they say, children become what you tell them.  And in a strange way because I kept appealing to his good side, kept suggesting to him that he needs to let his good shine through he may have grown up a little so that maybe now counseling will work for him.  I hope.


2. What role(s) have you played in the process?

I enabled my uBPD spouse's projection.  I taunted him into rages and analyzed him to death so that his anger did explode into rage.  I gave him the same treatment he gave me -constant calls every 2 hours, interrogations of who he was with, demanding to know why he hasn't called, refusing to believe he was doing what he said he was doing, going through his phone, asking him to not use his phone or laptop around me or the kids... .oh yeah... I gave it back to him, I reinforced his projective identification so that he no longer did those things because that was "crazy wife's behavior"... .of course he totally forgot his own. 

So I think when I gave up in him ever seeing the light and began to develop my own life his projections and insults doubled; but this time he had no ground to stand on.  I had not called him 15 times in a row for about 2 years.  All of his "proof" was a coupple years old.  Meanwhile his rages and mood swings still continued; his silent treatment got worse; his "off the grid" days tripled as for his criticisms those became far-fetched , i.e I'm a bad/abusive mom (again projection as his abusive behavior was often in front of the kids).

I have to let go and stop the behavioral analysis for my own sanity.  But also because it allows for too much rationalization of bad behavior.  What to do when he starts to project? Recently I gave him proof as to why I was not the person he describes.  Then later I realized its hopeless to explain as he just believes that I really do hate him and really do want to hurt him as he said.   Or maybe that's how he feels about me? In any event a defensive move/explanation just allows him an opportunity to expand his arsenal as he has to think of other ways to keep me either as a Saint or the Devil... .depending on the day and mood he is in.

Sorry to monopolize these boards recently but my awareness is just growing exponentially every day since I've found these boards.  And obviously I cannot talk to my uBPH spouse about it; or anyone else really (made that mistake before) except my therapist who only has an hour a week for me.  I feel like I've been pulled out of the sinkhole.
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