What Is a Projection Defense Mechanism? - Deepstash

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Projection as a Defense Mechanism

Projection as a Defense Mechanism

Projection is a defense mechanism in which an individual recognizes their unacceptable traits or impulses in someone else to avoid recognizing those traits or impulses in themselves subconsciously.

People protect their self-esteem by denying characteristics, impulses, or feelings they find threatening while seeing those same characteristics in someone else.


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Examples of Projection

Examples of Projection

  • A wife is attracted to a male co-worker but can't admit her feelings, so when her husband talks about a female co-worker, she becomes jealous and accuses him of being attracted to the other woman.
  • A man who feels insecure about his masculinity mocks other men for acting like women.
  • Someone feels guilty for feeling the urge to steal, leading them to suspect that others are planning to take their wallet or other valuables.
  • A young man ignores his own aggressive impulses and instead inaccurately believes his friend has aggressive tendencies.


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We always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent. 



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Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.



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Impact of Defensive Projection

Impact of Defensive Projection

In the short term, projection can be helpful. By denying uncomfortable truths about themselves, people can better cope with their anxieties and maintain their self-esteem.

However, projection can ultimately become harmful because it can disrupt interpersonal relationships and lead to issues like bullying, jealousy, and victim-blaming.


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How to Recognize and Overcome Projection

  • The first step is self-reflection. Try to be honest with yourself about what makes you insecure and anxious, and examine the traits and impulses you have that you may least like about yourself.
  • Then, attempt to view your behavior objectively to see if you may be projecting any of the anxieties you have about yourself onto someone else. Try not to judge yourself during this exploration; observe and honestly assess without dwelling on anything you uncover.


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Don't Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.



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