Protection with Projection!


Human behaviour can be interesting and complex. Most people are familiar with the term ‘defence mechanism’ as it has become part of our common language. Did you realise that the origins are from psychoanalysis, a personality theory developed by Sigmund Freud as a way of understanding the conflicts within ourselves?

Take the idea of Projection for example.

Projection is a psychological defence mechanism. It is employed subconsciously as a way to cope with troubling feelings like anxiety or guilt. A person may attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person, as the alternative is to admit to or deal with those feelings within themselves. For example, you might behave selfishly and that creates guilt and anxiety. In order to feel better, you deny that you are the selfish one and blame someone else.

You can see how this can create problems, especially in our relationships with others.

Defence mechanisms are a normal part of human functioning and often don’t create too many long term problems. However, some people find that they are damaging relationships, at work or in their personal lives, because they are not coping with underlying anxiety in a more positive way.

Talking with a skilled psychological practitioner can help you become more aware of patterns of behaviour that are not serving you well. Perhaps you recognise that there are defence mechanisms at play in your own behaviour but don’t know how to change your response. Working with a professional will help you identify and shift unhelpful responses to ones that are more beneficial, and relieve the associated stress and anxiety.