"We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses".

Carl Jung

The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.

Sigmund Freud

"the anxiety arising from the perpetual activity of the death instinct, though never eliminated, is counteracted and kept at bay by the power of the life instinct.

Melanie Klein

Transference & Projection

Written by Susan Stubbings 3 September 2017
Transference – (Freud) Is the redirection of feelings, desires and impulses from the unconscious onto another person because the owner cannot take ownership of them in their conscious mind and has driven them into their unconscious therefore are not aware of them.  These unconscious wishes, desires, feelings and impulses are thought to be mainly repressed experiences from childhood and therefore transference can be thought of as a substitution of one person on to another person in the transfers present interactions.

For example, it has often been said that we chose our husband or wife because they remind us of our father or mother!  We may mistrust a colleague or friend because their voice, the way they look or their mannerisms remind us of a school bully or an ex and the same is said we may gravitate towards someone because they remind us of some we liked in our childhood.  In the worst-case scenario killers can transfer unresolved rage onto their victims.
Projection – (Freud) similar to transference without transferring all unconscious material in projection we are defending ourselves against our internal impulses and qualities both positive and negative by denying them and at the same time we attribute them to the person we project onto.  For example, if I am angry, rude or feeling sexual towards another and don’t own the feelings I may project the feelings onto that person and say they are angry, rude or behaving sexually towards me!  Projection include blame shifting because the thoughts, motivations, desires and feelings cannot be accepted by the projector in their subjective world and therefore are attributed to another in the external world. Projection is a primitive defence mechanism. and can be seen in mental disorders in the extreme such as Narcistic and Borderline Personality Disorders. 

Carl Jung believed projection represents our shadow archetype, if we don’t understand our shadow part that which we don’t understand brings fear.  As such projections of our unconscious material can precipitate mutual acting out since projection evokes counter-projection, identifying with the projections we re-enact unfinished business from their past. Until we become aware of what’s in our own unconscious it can cause falsehood, chaos and pain in our relationships and in the way we relate to our Self.  This is the journey of psychoanalyses and counselling because once we understand our Self we can then make an informed choice for our well-being.

Melanie Klein thought projection has the potential for over-idealisation of the other, since it’s your own consciousness being projected in trying to escape the thoughts, feelings, impulses and desires so if projection be in the positive realm then one can simply feel love for another but it’s not real love for the other because it is your own feelings you are ‘identifying’ with, this is known as ‘projection identification’ (Jung)  This can cause a lot of problems in the future for example when one gets married through projection once the couple are married they then discover the spouse has ‘changed’ but what happened is you have stopped identifying with the projection!   In the positive we can project hope, love, peace onto another and we all feel good! 

Projection is a common utilised defence mechanism and protects a fragile ego reducing anxieties and fears in its extreme it can deplete an individual and can be a utilised defence in the negative of those who become bullies, victim blaming, shaming and in accusations such as martial accusations of affairs or in working environments for example blaming your colleague for something you did and now feel guilty about but your consciousness can’t accept it was your doing.

In grieving projection can be utilised to defend against the tsunami of emotions which disorientate and confuse when the griever first hears the news their child or loved one has died.  The griever may feel guilty of something out of their control and can blame the Doctors, nurses or others for the death when in fact no one did anything wrong because children and people die sadly.  But if we don’t like, want or need what we have just heard or seen we can project it out of ourselves and disown it and accuse and blame others.  

In therapy, the therapist works with the client to ‘take back’ projections, repressions and oppressions, own them and finish past business, so a person can make a conscious and informed choice for their own well-being.
Susan Stubbings Doncaster