• Gary Probst

What Is Projection?

Projection is a weapon of disordered people to take the focus off themselves.

Have you ever been frustrated by a liar who insists on calling you the liar? This is called projection and it is a way for people with problems to avoid having to face those problems. Here is a good analogy:

Let’s say you confront one of your children who is covered in filth and mud. You scold the child for letting themselves become so dirty. The child says you are the one who is dirty and then wipes some of the mud on your arm and then points to you. This is how projection works. By thrusting some of the negative of their behavior onto another, they can get the eyes off themselves and focus the problem on another person.

Projection is a valued tool of people with personality disorders. Narcissistic people are masters at this. They can violate every rule or ethical standard and still see themselves as perfect. When questioned about their behavior, they attack the accuser. Police officers are well-aware of this situation, as they often face the verbal abuse of criminals who have been caught in an illegal action. It is no different than when the person who is speeding complains that the officer was hiding the squad car. What it boils down to is the speeder violated the law but the officer is blamed for catching the speeder. It suddenly becomes the officer’s fault.

Projection often happens in relationships with difficult people. The classic line is from the alcoholic who becomes angry and strikes his wife. The person who committed the act of violence may say the spouse “made them do it” or “she just wouldn’t shut up”. That---is projection. Projection is a way to blame others for your own actions. The most horrific form of projection is when an attacker accuses a victim for wearing provocative clothing. A convincing liar and sociopath can even turn a jury against the rape victim with such twisted logic.

Do not, ever, let another person use projection against you. Get your facts in order and then stand up for yourself. If a person is chronic in the use of projection and will not seek mental health treatment, that is a toxic person you should reconsider for a relationship. Questioning yourself, due to the projection, will only damage your self-confidence and wear you down. It is good to be reflective but seek the advice of others. Don’t let a disordered person use this rather nasty weapon to control you with shame, guilt or obligation (also valuable tools of the disordered to control others). Don’t let others project their issues onto you.


© 2019, The Matthew Project, Inc., Hartford Counseling and Life Span Family Services