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Projection and Projective Identification - Abuser in Denial


Projection

We all have an image of how we "should be". Freud called it the "Ego Ideal". But sometimes we experience emotions and drives or have personal qualities which don't sit well with this idealized construct. Projection is when we attribute to others these unacceptable, discomfiting, and ill-fitting feelings and traits that we possess. This way we disown these discordant features and secure the right to criticize and chastise others for having or displaying them. When entire collectives (nations, groups, organizations, firms) project, Freud calls it the Narcissism of Small Differences.

Projective Identification

Projection is unconscious. People are rarely aware that they are projecting onto others their own ego-dystonic and unpleasant characteristics and feelings. But, sometimes, the projected content is retained in the subject's awareness. This creates a conflict. On the one hand, the patient cannot admit that the emotions, traits, reactions, and behaviors that he so condemns in others are really his. On the other hand, he can't help but being self-aware. He fails to erase from his consciousness the painful realization that he is merely projecting.

So, instead of denying it, the subject explains unpleasant emotions and unacceptable conduct as reactions to the recipient's behavior. "She made me do it!" is the battle cry of projective identification.

We all have expectations regarding the world and its denizens. Some people expect to be loved and appreciated - others to be feared and abused. The latter behave obnoxiously and thus force their nearest and dearest to hate, fear, and "abuse" them. Thus vindicated, their expectations fulfilled, they calm down. The world is rendered once more familiar by making other people behave the way they expect them to. "I knew you would cheat on me! It was clear I couldn't trust you!".

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Abusers regularly deny the abuse ever took place – or rationalize their abusive behaviors. Denial is an integral part of the abuser's ability to "look at himself/herself in the mirror".

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The narcissist projects this "civil war" and drags everyone around him into a swirl of bitterness, suspiciousness, meanness, aggression and pettiness. His life is a reflection of his psychological landscape: barren, paranoiac, tormented, guilt ridden. He feels compelled to do unto others what he inflicts upon himself. He gradually transforms his closest, nearest and dearest into replicas of his conflictive, punishing personality structure.

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In the narcissist's surrealistic world, even language is pathologized. It mutates into a weapon of self-defence, a verbal
fortification, a medium without a message, replacing words with duplicitous and ambiguous vocables.

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The narcissist invades our personality. He makes us react the way he would have liked to, had he dared, or had he known how (a mechanism known as "projective identification"). We are exhausted by his eccentricity, by his extravagance, by his grandiosity, by his constant entitlement.

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The narcissist feels omnipresent, all-pervasive, the prime mover and shaker, the cause of all things. Hence his constant projection of his own traits, fears, behaviour patterns, beliefs, and plans onto others.

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We feel threatened not by the Other with whom we have little in common – but by the "nearly-we", who mirror and reflect us.

The "nearly-he" imperils the narcissist's selfhood and challenges his uniqueness, perfection, and superiority – the fundaments of the narcissist's sense of self-worth. It provokes in him primitive narcissistic defences and leads him to adopt desperate measures to protect, preserve, and restore his balance. I call it the Gulliver Array of Defence Mechanisms.

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The narcissist's lifestyle, his reactions, in short: his disorder, prevent the development of a mature love, of real sharing, of empathy. The narcissist's mate, spouse, or partner is treated as an object. She is the subject of projections, projective identifications and a source of adulation.

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All abusers present with rigid and infantile (primitive) defense mechanisms: splitting, projection, Projective Identification, denial, intellectualization, and narcissism. But some abusers go further and decompensate by resorting to self-delusion. Unable to face the dismal failures that they are, they partially withdraws from reality.

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Narcissists have emotions, very strong ones, so terrifyingly overpowering and negative that they hide them, repress, block and transmute them. They employ a myriad of defence mechanisms to cope with their repressed emotions: projective identification, splitting, projection, intellectualisation, rationalisation.

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The inverted narcissist (IN) is a narcissist who "projects" his narcissism onto another narcissist. The mechanism of projective identification allows the IN to experience his own narcissism vicariously, through the agency of a classic narcissist. But the IN is no less a narcissist than the classical one. He is no less socially reclusive.

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Being the target of relentless, ubiquitous, and unjust persecution proves to the paranoid narcissist how important and feared he is. Being hounded by the mighty and the privileged validates his pivotal role in the scheme of things. Only vital, weighty, crucial, essential principals are thus bullied and intimidated, followed and harassed, stalked and intruded upon - goes his unconscious inner dialog. The narcissist consistently baits authority figures into punishing him and thus into upholding his delusional self-image as worthy of their attention. This provocative behaviour is called Projective Identification.

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Aug/25/2009, 11:45 am Link to this post  
 
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Re: Projection and Projective Identification - Abuser in Denial


What is unusual about the narcissist's sadistic behaviours - premeditated acts of tormenting others while enjoying their anguished reactions - is that they are goal orientated. "Pure" sadists have no goal in mind except the pursuit of pleasure - pain as an art form (remember the Marquis de Sade?). The narcissist, on the other hand, haunts and hunts his victims for a reason - he wants them to reflect his inner state. It is all part of a mechanism called "Projective Identification".

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Narcissism is regarded by many scholars to be an adaptative strategy ("healthy narcissism"). It is considered pathological in the clinical sense only when it becomes a rigid personality structure replete with a series of primitive defence mechanisms (such as splitting, projection, Projective Identification, intellectualization) – and when it leads to dysfunctions in one or more areas of life.

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Transference (and counter-transference) are quite common on the Net and the narcissist's defence mechanisms – notably projection and Projective Identification – are frequently aroused. The therapeutic process is set in motion by the – unbridled, uncensored, and brutally honest - reactions to the narcissist's repertory of antics, pretensions, delusions, and fantasies.

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The compulsive giver is an artist of projective identification. He manipulates his closest into behaving exactly the way he expects them to. He keeps lying to them and telling them that the act of giving is the only reward he seeks. All the while he secretly yearns for reciprocity.

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Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated and instruments of gratification and utility. They have no discernible conscience, are devoid of empathy and find it difficult to perceive other people's nonverbal cues, needs, emotions, and preferences. Consequently, the psychopath rejects other people's rights and his commensurate obligations. He is impulsive, reckless, irresponsible and unable to postpone gratification. He often rationalises his behaviour showing an utter absence of remorse for hurting or defrauding others.

Their (primitive) defence mechanisms include splitting (they view the world – and people in it – as "all good" or "all evil"), projection (attribute their own shortcomings unto others) and Projective Identification (force others to behave the way they expect them to).

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psychopaths feel no remorse when they hurt or defraud others. They don't possess even the most rudimentary conscience. They rationalize their (often criminal) behavior and intellectualize it. Psychopaths fall prey to their own primitive defense mechanisms (such as narcissism, splitting, and projection). The psychopath firmly believes that the world is a hostile, merciless place, prone to the survival of the fittest and that people are either "all good" or "all evil". The psychopath projects his own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings unto others and force them to behave the way he expects them to (this defense mechanism is known as "projective identification"). Like narcissists, psychopaths are abusively exploitative and incapable of true love or intimacy.

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The pedophile makes frequent (though unconscious) use of projection and projective identification in his relationships with children. He makes his victims treat him the way he views himself - or attributes to them traits and behaviors that are truly his.

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The narcissist then "envies" his self. He seeks to destroy and devalue his own self. He seeks to punish himself and to motivate others to punish him ("projective identification").

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The narcissistic parent seems to employ a myriad primitive defences in his dealings with his children:

Splitting – Idealising the child and devaluing him in cycles, which reflect the internal dynamics of the parent rather than anything the child does.

Projective Identification – Forcing the child to behave in a way which vindicates the parent's fears regarding himself or herself, his or her self-image and his or her self-worth. This is a particularly powerful and pernicious mechanism. If the narcissist parent fears his own deficiencies ("defects"), vulnerability, perceived weaknesses, susceptibility, gullibility, or emotions – he is likely to force the child to "feel" these rejected and (to him) repulsive emotions, to behave in ways strongly abhorred by the parent, to exhibit character traits the parent strongly rejects in himself.

Projection - The child, in a way, becomes the "trash bin" of the parents' inhibitions, fears, self-loathing, self-contempt, perceived lack of self-worth, sense of inadequacy, rejected traits, repressed emotions, failures and emotional reticence.

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They cast themselves in the role of victims and attribute mental disorders to others ("pathologizing"). They employ the primitive defence mechanisms of splitting and projection augmented by the more sophisticated mechanism of projective identification.

In other words:

They "split off" from their personality the bad feelings of hating and being hated – because they cannot cope with negative emotions. They project these unto others ("He hates me, I don't hate anyone", "I am a good soul, but he is a psychopath", "He is stalking me, I just want to stay away from him", "He is a con-artist, I am the innocent victim").

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Narcissists adopt all kinds of defences to counter narcissistic shame. They develop addictive, reckless, or impulsive behaviours. They deny, withdraw, rage, or engage in the compulsive pursuit of some kind of (unattainable, of course) perfection. They display haughtiness and exhibitionism and so on. All these defences are primitive and involve splitting, projection, projective identification, and intellectualization.

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Terrorists seek omnipotence through murder, control (not least self control) through violence, prestige, fame and celebrity by defying figures of authorities, challenging them, and humbling them. Unbeknownst to them, they seek self punishment. They are at heart suicidal. They aim to cast themselves as victims by forcing others to punish them. This is called "projective identification". They attribute evil and corruption to their enemies and foes. These forms of paranoia are called projection and splitting. These are all primitive, infantile, and often persecutory, defense mechanisms.

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---
Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy

http://samvak.tripod.com/siteindex.html

Buy 16 books and video lectures on 3 DVDs about narcissists, psychopaths, and abusive relationships

http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/thebook.html
Aug/25/2009, 11:45 am Link to this post  
 


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