I was prompted to write this blog post on projective identification because I’m seeing and personally being negatively impacted by the high volume of them being launched daily on public and social media. Every day, the internet and the 24-hour news cycle are permeated with many stress-inducing, negative projective identifications.
In my experience, what gets called projective identification can be described in these examples:
First, if I’m not consciously aware that I’m feeling afraid and ashamed, because to acknowledge the existence of those blocked emotions to myself would make me feel too vulnerable, it’s possible that via projective identification I can somehow directly or covertly affect you so that you feel afraid and ashamed too.
The purpose of doing that is because in the instant I perceive that I’ve succeeded in inducing fear and shame in you, I can feel a palpable relief from my own fear and shame. That relief may come because I suddenly don’t feel so alone with what’s going on inside me, even though I can’t name those emotions to myself yet. It’s also possible the relief comes about by going from feeling internally victimized by my painful emotions to feeling unburdened by passing them off to another — much like the proverbial “hot potato.” Relief may also result from a kind of vengeful displacing of my own emotions of fear and pain by lodging them in someone else to carry and embody, much as an insecure bully likes to see the fear on the faces of those he torments.
Conversely to the above examples about unconscious fear and shame, if I’m feeling happy or hopeful but may not be able to allow that emotional awareness into consciousness because of an unconscious belief in my own unworthiness, I may say or do something in a way that induces happy or hopeful emotions in you. I can then feel relief as those emotions now are present in the interpersonal space between us, albeit seeming to reside in the other person, not myself.
This process, which has been called projective identification, was first noted by Freud’s follower Melanie Klein. It is a more complex phenomenon than what’s referred to in the old adage, “misery loves company.”
It’s also more complicated than simple projection — when a person simply projects unacceptable aspects of themselves onto someone else in a demonizing way, as in the common kind of self-deception projection that sounds like: “That person out there is very dishonest but I am never dishonest!”
As RD Laing described how the process of projective identification differs from projection:
“The one person does not use the other person merely as a hook to hang projections on. He/she strives to find in the other, or to induce the other to become, the very embodiment of projection.”1
I gradually learned as a therapist in the 80’s to be aware of when a person I was with seemed to be mysteriously able to create distressful or unbidden upbeat emotional states in me — states that they were themselves subjectively feeling, but weren’t fully aware of.
Sometimes, when they would project their unconscious anger, fear, guilt, shame, inadequacy or other difficult emotions through an almost inescapable and subtly imperceptible, hypnotic-like induction move, it would cause me to identify with those emotions and feel them too.
By first recognizing the possibility of being on the receiving end of such a complex and very often unconscious process, I learned how to let that projected emotional experience of another person come into me psychologically, and then to let it go out of me. It’s important to note that this so-called projective identification experience, for me, was qualitatively different than the more familiar experience of empathically tuning into another person’s emotional reality to better understand what they are feeling. That empathic process of “putting myself in the other person’s shoes” is the prerequisite for the next crucial step of feeling compassion.
But when a projective identification is sent out and internalized, it turns out that being aware of that unique experience can also be valuable for me to have a sense of what the other person might be experiencing internally.
The short term gratification and relief of them successfully getting me to feel what they were unconsciously feeling, as described in the examples above, was outweighed by my willingness to feel it in the service of helping them become more consciously aware of what they were in fact really feeling and projecting. But I never interpreted the emotional clues I was getting that felt like a projective identification was going on with proclamations based on some bogus authority, authority that would presumptuously set me up as the arbiter and know-it-all explainer of their subjective experience.
One especially memorable encounter that felt like a possible projective identification aimed at inducing shame and fear in me happened in the early 1980s. It highlighted the nature of both this powerful interpersonal and individually subjective experience of a projective identification being received and responded to in a therapy setting.
The new client who came to see me one afternoon was in their late 20’s. When we met and sat down together for the first time they immediately asked me, “Where’s my patient chart, didn’t you bring it here in the room?”
“No,” I said. “It’s still in the chart room — I haven’t looked at it. I like to meet people without reading all the preceding opinions about them.”
“Then you don’t know that I’ve fired seven therapists in the past year!”
“No, I didn’t know that.”
“You don’t even know what I am? What my diagnosis is?”
“No, I’m not really into viewing people as a diagnosis.”
They suddenly got up and came to stand over me a few feet away and in a very loud voice declared:
“Well let me tell you then: I am the most flaming and famous borderline personality in this whole chickenshit mental health system of yours! And to prove it to you, mister laid-back Cornwall, the next time I visit you here, I’ll get up on the roof of this clinic and put a shotgun in my mouth for you to see just before I pull the trigger! What do you say to that, Michael Cornwall?”
I felt fear, and felt my breathing catch and my muscles tense in my shoulders and stomach.
And I became very grateful that I’d previously spent several years as a therapist in a 20-bed medication and diagnosis free sanctuary with people who were all going through incredibly emotionally intense extreme and altered states. There, I learned out of necessity how crucial it was for my subjective emotional state to be open and receptive and in touch with genuine caring, in order to help people in extreme states feel safer, and for them to be free to express and traverse their powerfully emotional and symbolic transformational process.
So, I went ahead and relaxed my muscles, took a deep breath and said to the new client still looming over me:
“I’m very sorry you’re suffering now. I hope I may be able to be of some real help to you.”
“What! No calling the police right now to come grab me, after hearing about my suicidal ideation, intent and plan as you quacks like to call it?”
“No, no calling anyone.”
They just stared down at me.
Then they backed up and sat in their chair.
They slowly shook their head and began to softly laugh. “Where in hell did you come from? You’re supposed to be running for the door about now!”
“From a different place than your last seven therapists, I guess!” I said, and we smiled at each other and both laughed out loud.
After that we saw each other regularly for many months.
I guess this person was waiting for someone to let what some folks call projective identifications just come and then just go — waiting for someone who just simply cared about them and wanted to listen to them tell about their life and emotional struggles. Someone who believed in them and respected them and supported them making their own decisions and plans. Someone who didn’t pathologize or label them.
These old memories have come to mind for me lately when I feel myself absorbing the many projective identifications flying around on TV, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, cable news, the internet and in the newspaper every day. Those publicly expressed projective identifications, aimed at making us feel as intensely afraid or helpless as the persons sending them are feeling, do work temporarily on me. I do feel afraid when I take them in.
But I can feel some relief when I recognize them for what they are and intentionally let them go again, emotionally.
Unlike with the people who come to see me for therapy, I don’t feel compassion when strangers, talking heads and politicians make me feel afraid on purpose — even when they’re doing it to make themselves feel better.
But for me, I know that those politicians and many others who are using projective identification are outside of my inner circle of trusted loved ones, and that I can identify and resist their negative projective identifications, even when they escalate into blatant gaslighting and outright demagoguery. Understanding that negative projective identifications are happening helps me to keep my balance and perspective. That search for balance and perspective looks to be very necessary while going forward each day into the tumultuous future ahead.
- Laing, R.D. Self and Others. Penguin, 1969. p.111 ↩
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Good one Michael ….as always….
Thank you ParaPatty!
I agree with ParaPatty, this *is* a good one, Michael. And I think this article is particularly timely and relevant because you are cracking an important code.
“Understanding that negative projective identifications are happening helps me to keep my balance and perspective. That search for balance and perspective looks to be very necessary while going forward each day into the tumultuous future ahead.”
Yes, indeed, we need our most powerful tools and inner resourcefulness to navigate the current and upcoming conditions. We are changing, and it’s been a long time coming.
In addition to perspective and balance, I would add speaking the truth of our heart as one of our most powerful inner resources which can help move things along with clarity and integrity. I value and respect very highly transparency and authenticity because they trump gaslighting.
Thank you for your comment Alex. Yes, “speaking the truth of our heart” is so important!
I think one of the issues many have had in the mh system is having to deal with a plethora of clinical projections that often occur after speaking one’s personal truth.
The hard part is that the stigma which is born from these all-too-common prejudices creates social and professional marginalization, regardless of a person’s ability to not identify with the projection on a personal level. Yes, projections are about the projector. And still, this dynamic can ruin innocent lives, and it has. Truth speaking is an act of integrity, and for the reasons I give above, I see it as courage personified.
While I certainly don’t expect it to always go down well when I speak my truth, I believe it’s the way out of oppression, and I defer to the higher power of the universe for validation by what unfolds for me next.
The film I made several years ago, Voices That Heal, was intended to create a new dialogue, but instead, it just pissed off the system and alienated me further from it. Ok, lesson learned. I get now what happens when one mirrors the system and speaks one’s truth in that direction. It’s not pretty!
And at the same time, my path of transformation and freedom was laid out for me unequivocally thanks to having spoken my truth of the matter clearly and directly. Because I made it a point to not identify with the projections which came at me from some when I spoke publically about my journey, and instead, followed the guidance of this higher power, I learned to once again trust the process of life.
Thank you again Alex, for your great comment! I’ve long believed that the whole edifice of the psychiatric disease model of human emotional suffering was and is a massive cultural creation constructed to defend against the truthful emotional expression of individuals of every age in our society. Our culture fears emotional truth so much that we’ve tasked, co-created and funded the psychiatritric disease model to legitimize the control of every citizen’s subjective truth. That control is always exerted in the name of doing what’s best for the “deviating” emotion expressing person in our midst.
In this light, all those clinical assessments, diagnoses and forced or imposed “treatments” are as you say, fueled by the objectifying projections that places pathology “out there”- residing in the person suffering emotional pain.
The same unacknoledged unconscious inner fear that prompts a politician to induce fear in others via projective identification, also prompts the diagnosing “mental health” clinician to need to have the emotionally suffering person in front of them to embody the clinician’s fear of their own emotional suffering, so the clinician can safely go on telling themselves that they are beyond ever feeling the emotional pain that they diagnose in others.
I remember in grad school when a professor defensively responded to me in front of the class after I’d suggested that I believed that any one could end up in an extreme state if a threshold of trauma and loss occurred to them. The professor declared- “Michael, I could never become psychotic no matter what ever happened to me! I have completed a rigorous training analysis and my ego strength is now developed to the point where I’m impervious to ever becoming overwhelmed as you are claiming is possible for anyone!”
The whole class turned and looked at me, waiting for my answer.
I said- “ For your sake, I hope that’s true.”
Beautiful, Michael, letter perfect, imo.
“The same unacknowledged unconscious inner fear that prompts a politician to induce fear in others via projective identification, also prompts the diagnosing “mental health” clinician to need to have the emotionally suffering person in front of them to embody the clinician’s fear of their own emotional suffering, so the clinician can safely go on telling themselves that they are beyond ever feeling the emotional pain that they diagnose in others.”
Yes! And so the client gets a double dose. They then have not only their fear and whatever else they are bringing to address within themselves, but now also, on top of that, they are vulnerable to carrying whatever is not owned by the clinician and projected onto the client. That is exactly what the current paradigm allows and has become the practiced norm, and which I feel is THE vital core issue which is in need of shifting. From this stems everything–the drugging, the marginalizing, the re-traumatization, etc., and especially the notion that these are lifelong chronic issues, which I do not believe this at all needs to be the case.
But if a client is faced with these projections week after week and year after year without realizing it (and often it is so subtle that it’s hard to catch if one is feeling dependence, and also if it is the familiar), then, indeed, this can create a chronic lifelong issue. That is trauma upon trauma upon trauma, which is what eats away at people until they get out of that situation and make necessary changes to their beliefs about themselves.
That is exactly what I had to do in order to find my clarity again, and as a result, my energy shifted so much that my entire world around me changed because I was attracting new energy into my life– more respect, along with self-responsible and conscientious people. It was amazing to see how the internal shifting changed my reality so drastically.
I feel very encouraged from the clarity you put forth here. Thank you!
There’s a critical flaw with your assessment Doc. It relies on survival bias to relay a general theme of treatment.
Like you said, you had one instance where you managed to calm down a patient but what happens when you don’t and the person already had a gun?
It’s one thing if you are using these events to make your case for some other concept but negative projections can vary from case to case and sadly these kinds of fairy tale success stories can cover up lots of things that make it hard for patients to defend or seek people who would successfully win their case for them.
Your story in the article had already been tested to an extreme case in articles like this:
George Reeves the 1950 Superman had a young boy point a gun on him
The problem is not your success doc but what happens when therapists use their own success stories against a patient like in your article? They can’t just randomly hop around to whichever psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist writing about their famous stories and then go “doc, love your story – let me hire you as your patient.”
Eventually reality sinks in and they have to limit themselves within their resources like money, geography and cultural beliefs and stories like this have a dangerous implication that these people need to let go of their negative projections as opposed to educating themselves about their negative projections including seeking a person who understands these words.
Thank you too Alex! Yes, as you say so importantly, the multiplying, cumulative trauma that’s fueled by the clinician’s own emotion avoidant projections and projective identifications, plus the whole monolithic presence of the psychiatric disease model “treatment” system of denying and silencing emotion with medications- can easily crush the life and spirit of anyone-
Until they are almost against all odds able to escape the trap.
Michael, I do not mean to belabor this and stray from the topic, but you have opened a door for me to talk about something very relevant and important when you say, “Until they are almost against all odds able to escape the trap.” I’ll post a thumbnail response here and were you to feel inclined to discuss this further, please do feel free to contact me. This is exactly my life work.
Yes, it is a trap and yes again, it is almost against all odds. I cannot even begin to tell you all that I did in order to beat these odds. Being on a disability income in San Francisco leaves hardly any options because we are so focused on barely surviving, while carrying intense fear of not being able to pull even that off. But I went around town very humbly volunteering and bartering for healing and training to finally get the info I needed that would allow for the escape path to open up, which was really about learning to manifest. It’s why I’m always talking about energy and working with the light of the universe. That was a very specific perspective and skill which I happily fostered as I went along.
This did work for me unequivocally but it took great humility, while at the same time I had to reclaim my power. It was a long and uncertain process for me, but I was told by a teacher I had at that time that I was breaking ground, so I kept going wondering to where it would lead.
Getting out of SF in order to clear my head and ground in nature was a feat in and of itself. I had neither the means nor a destination, but as I experienced more and more healing and set a deliberate intention to break through the glass ceiling, the doors opened and I followed the path which unfolded from this, which was nothing short of miraculous.
All I did though, was to apply Law of Attraction to what I was already doing to heal based on the energy work I learned. This is where the turnaround occurred. These are powerful teachings.
I teach this now, to anyone–how to manifest our way forward, regardless of ANYTHING. Most everyone I know feels oppressed on some level, trapped by whatever circumstances are double-binding them.
Just last night, I gave a class where we talked about the pitfalls of money in our society, where I remind people of something called “innate abundance.” This concept served me more than I can express. It is greater than money and everyone has it, if they can access it within themselves. From this innate abundance, money will manifest when we need it, as well as anything else.
But in this mindset, we do not give power to money over anything else. The power is in knowing our innate abundance, and that takes deep healing if we’ve experienced the kind of trauma we’re talking about here. Still, this is where we can beat those odds, every time. So far, I know of no other way.
You’ve put in words what I ve been feeling but couldn’t exactly grasp. I was talking to a friend of mine about the same thing and I’ll send him your blog!
Thank you Fiachra!
I found out tonight that my step-mother died about a week ago.
I hadn’t seen her for over 25 years.
In your terms I guess she used protective identifications a lot. Or as a friend of hers said, ” Suzannah put the knife in when you were feeling vulnerable.” That’s why I hadn’t seen her for 25 years.
She had a hard life and I know her life story well enough to know some of why she felt so bad that she was horrid to people around her and why she drank herself to a relatively early grave.
Once I was sleeping in a squatted building on my own when some people broke in and wanted to smash it up. For a while I talked them down.
Sometimes I can let the threats come and go, reflect on them, reflect them back with empathy for myself and the other person. Sometimes I can’t. For some people, such as my step-mother, I was and maybe will never be able to.
Thank you for writing John. It’s very sad in my experience when people in our families and personal lives burn the bridges with us through their continued traumatizing cruelty that they won’t or can’t stop doing.
Fascinating Michael. Thanks for sharing this knowledge obvious honed from years of experience . I like that you connect this to the use of projections via the elite media too. The irrational fears of ‘terrorists’ for example, and I say irrational because the public are much more likely to be the victim of State sanctioned violence than any terrorist attack. But the wolf is circling the flock. Cut to an adverisiment for benzodiazepines lol.
Thank you for writing boans. It does feel to me like the soundtrack to our lives these days is made up of a whole chorus of both manipulative unconscious projective identifications as I noted, plus a constant stream of very conscious and intentionally produced political propaganda aimed our way from every part of the political spectrum imaginable.
Apparently, in the USA at least, we’re more likely to drown in our bathtub or be shot by a toddler than be killed by a terrorist. Big Pharma is certainly a bigger threat by many orders of magnitude.
In Australia we’re coerced into voting (fined if you don’t, makes our elected leaders seems popular and legitimate). I told the Electoral Commission that as long as people are being tortured by public officers they can just ask my doctor who I should vote for. Which doctor? I dunno because they can appoint themselves your doctor without even meeting you. Project my civic responsibility onto others 🙂 But still we are bombarded with political propaganda.
I’d say more but I’ve left a toddler in the bath with my 38 special and …….
The fines for not voting have the result in some cases of people being ‘jacked up’ and owing hundreds or thousands in fines. Eg they cancel your drivers licence and car registration without you knowing and police then charge you with further offences. Nice little cash cow for the State and its generally poor homeless people who are caught in the trap.
It’s a complex phenomena of being, Michael.
In my experience it’s a way of seeing with an expectation of recognition. Like looking at the sky and seeing the word clouds, while failing to notice this sense of being my mind, has dissociated my sense of being.
No wonder Jesus cites Isaiah’s concise comment on the paradox of human motivation and perception; seeing they see not, and in no wise perceive.
Which reminds me of a great line in DAVID Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas; what is a critic, but one who reads quickly but never wisely.
Are you maturing like fine wine?
Thanks for your comment BigPicture Awareness! Your great included quotes about perception and reality remind me of one by Orwell- “To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.”
Surely to NOT see or know requires the maintaining of constant struggle – hence the projection and acting out of ‘conflicts’ as a means of blocking the channel of communication – and the whole edifice of a victim self set over and against others and world that calls upon power to self-vindicate over a sense of self-invalidity or indeed guilt/unworthiness.
The struggle to stay awake – vigilant – present is more like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane – which I read as Jesus recognizing his own projected self-judgement on them rather than acting as if it was true, and so returning to a willingness of self release until his loving acceptance of them as they are, established the basis to go forth to meet the world in that quality and discernment of being.
So to not take the bait of reaction by which to become embroiled in a ‘battle of wills’ as I see it – is the result of growing in awareness and acceptance of a true sense of worth by willingness to live from it – that is – extending it in thought, word and deed to others and our world. This ‘projection’ is shared to the willingness to receive in others even as it rises from willingness to receive. That is – it is not coercive upon us.
So while I understand the use of the word ‘struggle’ in terms of loving freedom and resisting tyranny (within ourselves and without), I prefer to frame it in terms of active willingness and not any kind of wilfulness.
Orwell depicted a modern day crucifixion – but left us with the boot in our face.
Your living choice to not resist evil in the patient who sought to terrorise you revealed you to him as someone real enough to open relationship with.
We all acquire strategies in our formative years that become our masking persona. The mask not only hides us from feared or hated outcomes, but becomes a way to manipulate outcomes through masked intent.
No one can release or change what they are not the owner of, and so noticing ‘in act’ is the moment of recognition where a habit can be replaced by a choice – and the active willingness of aligning in such choices becomes a new ‘habit’.
The habit of the attempt to gain a personal sense of salvation by getting rid of self-rejection onto others and attacking or manipulating it there is the ‘world’ I grow willingness to wake from – as a result of recognizing myself (shared worth) in others in place of ‘seeing’ a lack of love-worthiness to be corrected, fixed, escaped, airbrushed out or confirmed in the other as a sense of relative superiority of personal or social status.
I met the term pharmakoi for the first time recently and had to look it up. The intensity of a collective desire for scapegoats and hate objects is proportional to the desire NOT to see and know. It does not SEEM to be a struggle because the habit has become ‘second nature’ over the last few thousand years and in some ways has become a systemic and tyrannous expression of doublethink that is set against the truly human Will – or rather set to cover over it. Willingness to align in true desire must face or own our fears (and their strategies of denial, escape or evasion) but not in terms of room 101 torture. The difference I see between insanity and sanity is the sense of a separated sense of self attempt to a private reality assertion, contrasted with being, shared.
If the nature of Mind is extension or creation through Idea, then ideas never leave the mind that holds them and the attempt to excommunicate or get rid of any idea that ‘pushes y/our buttons’ is a split minded version, given precedence. It is also giving or teaching the idea of rejection and conflict and thus learning and receiving it as real, because we want it real as a prior sense of self imaged and judged.
Holding a clear intent to calm as the desire for true communication – rather than as a limiting of consciousness in dissociative escape – is counter to all the force that emotional reaction SHOUTS! But the small still voice is rooted in the Timeless – where the SHOUTING of an Ancient Choice has only the power we give it BY reaction – and so passing through the ‘storm’ may seem a horrendous struggle or drama according to our identification and investment in it. But at some point we notice that the way we frame our experience is determining how we experience and then we become vigilant against ways of thinking that are blocks to true seeing, appreciation and gratitude for being.
Michael I am sharing this one in a blog post of my own. I just blogged about this.
In my work in customer service most of our customers are kind, polite, and gracious. However, we do get ones we call “irate.” This is the common term in the industry. They even yell or swear at us into the phone. Some are extremely rude and blameful. I’ve had some call from their cars and then blame me for THEIR background noise. The list goes on.
We get trained in this. As home workers we are told to empathize, or at least sound that way. We are told to force an empathetic attitude even if we do not feel it and what we are really thinking is, “I really am about to sneeze,” or some such thing. Or, as of late,”Darn I need to turn on the fan.”
We have learned not to take these irate customers personally. They may say they’re pissed, but who are they really pissed at? Me? For an error made by UPS? They do, and they even blame us for their own errors.
We have figured out that more often than not, these customers are projecting whatever is going on in their lives onto us, because we are there to pick on! I had one, early on, crying over the phone over a pair of flip-flops we couldn’t get to her in time for vacation. I knew something else was happening. Maybe it was a really important date, or maybe this was just the last straw for her in a long line of recent misfortunes she had experienced. I weathered the storm by realizing that, and also later on, joked to myself that my best flip-flops were from the dollar store! Of course, saying that would have gotten me fired. Maybe she will stop at a five and dime on vacation and find the perfect pair she has always wanted…..
I don’t know how on earth I can stand being yelled and sworn at, but this is my job and it’s part of the job, for which I am paid. We learn, but it takes time and it’s only human to get upset by it every now and then. Only one time that happened, when the customer hit too low below the belt and insinuated that I am stupid, among other things. It was hard to deal with that. What makes up for it all are the wonderful customers who come next, who thank us profusely for our problem-solving skills and say we’re the best.
I ask myself why these customers don’t bother me, but an insulting remark from a complete stranger on Facebook really ticks me off. Why is that? Possibly the content, which is often an accusation of having a mental disorder.
These stranger bullies on Facebook are doing nothing but projecting. I’ve been accused of paranoia by someone who, I later found out, was paranoid herself. I was accused of lying by liars, accused of abuse by a person who was abusive toward me (and I had not been toward her), and so on.
I am not sure how to deal with the know-it-alls except that such attitudes tend to soften over time. You see a lot of that on Facebook.
I wonder if those accusing public figures of mental illness are actually worried about their own “mental status,” whatever the heck that is. According to Paula Joan Caplan, most people want to be assured they are not mentally ill, that what they are feeling and experiencing is understandable.
As customer service rep, I know not to accuse, nor comment on a person’s character. I try to tell customers their anger is understandable. If a customer receive the wrong item, I might joke about the time I received basketball shoes instead of running shoes (me? I’m too short!). Or if their item was lost I joke about how my BICYCLE got lost by UPS. That, to me, is so funny (did it roll out of their storage area?) that the customers usually relax and know they’re not going to be accused of dishonesty.
Thank you for your comment Julie! It’s wonderful to hear about the empathy and patience you have with your customers.
Best wishes, Michael
“I felt fear, and felt my breathing catch and my muscles tense in my shoulders and stomach.” Its a very visceral account of personal experience, that seems to speaks volumes about the muscular tensions and vascular pressures that create the cerebral tone of our body-mind, Michael? And I wonder if you were aware within that temporal (of fleeting moment) experience, of the affect on your heart-rate and your cerebral blood-flow?
In another blog here on MIA there is mention of psychiatry’s ‘gas-lighting’ behavior, which is a term that to my mind, reflects the subconscious nature of our Projective Identifications, which can either be perceived with a negative or positive bias?
What Gas. What Light and Where? Gas, as the oxygen we breathe and transform into oxygenated blood? Light, as the the metaphysical energy of our conscious awareness, fired by our heart and its reciprocal influence on the charge and discharge nature of 100 million brain cells?
Which, when contemplating the reality of inner experience versus the literacy and numeracy skills of consensus reality, begs the question; what is psychotic experience if it is not what psychiatry says it is?
Is it the metempsychosis of self-differentiation experience, or as Tolle say of the first law of enlightenment: the experience of ‘how,’ “you are not your mind.”
BTW: There is new book by Peter Kingsley on one of your mentor’s Carl Jung and I wonder if your term ‘psychological-blindness’ will get an explanation in this two volume tome? The promo reads: Catafalque (2-Volume Set): Carl Jung and the End of Humanity.
Catafalque offers a revolutionary new reading of the great psychologist Carl Jung as mystic, gnostic and prophet for our time.
This book is the first major re-imagining of both Jung and his work since the publication of the Red Book in 2009–and is the only serious assessment of them written by a classical scholar who understands the ancient Gnostic, Hermetic and alchemical foundations of his thought as well as Jung himself did. At the same time it skillfully tells the forgotten story of Jung’s relationship with the great Sufi scholar, Henry Corbin, and with Persian Sufi tradition.
The strange reality of the Red Book, or “New Book” as Carl Jung called it, lies close to the heart of Catafalque. In meticulous detail Peter Kingsley uncovers its great secret, hidden in plain sight and still–as if by magic–unrecognized by all those who have been unable to understand this mysterious, incantatory text.
But the hard truth of who Jung was and what he did is only a small part of what this book uncovers. It also exposes the full extent of that great river of esoteric tradition that stretches all the way back to the beginnings of our civilization. It unveils the surprising realities behind western philosophy, literature, poetry, prophecy–both ancient and modern.
Thank you again BigPictureAwareness for your wonderful comment contribution and for the great info on the new Peter Kingsley book on Jung!
Really nice account of a much misunderstood but profoundly important type of emotional communication, especially useful when working with groups as well as individuals.
First, thanks for introducing me to Laing. His book (and 2 others) are available on Kindle and can conveniently travel with me. This article and your anecdote fit the purpose exquisitely.
And you ended with this:
> Unlike with the people who come to see me for therapy, I don’t feel compassion when strangers, talking heads and politicians make me feel afraid on purpose — even when they’re doing it to make themselves feel better.
> But for me, I know that those politicians and many others who are using projective identification are outside of my inner circle of trusted loved ones, and that I can identify and resist their negative projective identifications, even when they escalate into blatant gaslighting and outright demagoguery. Understanding that negative projective identifications are happening helps me to keep my balance and perspective. That search for balance and perspective looks to be very necessary while going forward each day into the tumultuous future ahead.
I feel the same. It’s a way to build resistance and understand behavior in the real world as well. And I’m newer to this than you Doctor. 🙂
New subscriber by the way! Have a good holiday!
Thanks for writing here Scuffed Analyst!