This is from Daniel Goleman’s “Vital Lies, Simple Truths; the psychology of self-deception”;

The Formula for projection has two stages. In the first, a disturbing feeling, idea, or impulse raises a tide of insecurity. That, in turn, mobilizes defences: attention is focused outward, the internal domain – particularly the disturbing aspect – is blockaded. In the second stage the person scans with an intense suspiciousness and seizes on corroborating clues. Those confirmed clues are pieced together to paint a picture of the enemy which bears an uncanny similarity to the original disturbing aspect of the self.

Once cast out, the projected self seems to be a stranger – and a sinister one at that. When he (or she) confronts their own projected suspicions and anger in the image he (or she) constructs of the enemy, he (or she) is unable to recognize any of his or herself therein.

“The Dectective”s favoured intrapsychic posture, then, is a combination of three manoeuvres: denial of his or her own weakness and ill will, the projection of these aspects of him or herself on to others, and the ongoing effort to confirm the truth of those projections by searching for telltale clues. His or her denial is fiercer than the garden variety; he or she not only denies their own inadequacy and hostility, but disowns it by hurling it out on others. He or she is not malicious, vindictive, or jealous; it is “they” – the others – who harbour these feelings toward him or her. A simple reversal justifies his or her resentments while absolving the self.

Projection may be mobilised under stress, when the person is on the defensive. But it can also be an active, ongoing part of a person’s mental organisation. In this milder form it most often shows up as a peculiar preoccupation with some favourite form of villainy – welfare cheats, say, or the morally impure. It can also come to typify a chronic interpersonal problem, the specific players changing from time to time and place to place.

Projection makes people “difficult”. the lives of such people are frequently haunted by a long string of resentful lovers, unfair bosses, or callous landlords. People of this sort often find themselves in stormy relations, particularly when they feel their autonomy is at stake. this puts them at odds with those in positions of authority as well as those attachments to them (lovers, spouses, family) threaten to restrict their sense of freedom.

Isolation compounds the Detective’s difficulties. Unwilling to trust others and confide his or her doubts and insecurities, he or she is bereft of the sympathetic listener – a listener who might offer another perspective more grounded in reality. Without such reality checks, his or her suspicions continue unrestrained, gathering confirmation of a cock-eyed theory. Without closeness or sharing, lacking anyone who can counter his or her unbridled imagination, he or she is vulnerable to an increasing inability to see things as others do.

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