Our alienating parent has, for many years, accused me of certain behavior when she, herself, is actually the person behaving in that manner. Our alienating parent claims “I have a stalker,” when she spends hour, upon hour, upon hour viewing our various websites. “Some people use genealogical sites to harm others,” when she posts her personal comments, feelings and observations under the names of deceased individuals, even though those deceased individuals have nothing to do with the posted comments. The list goes on and on …..
People have come to us with the theory that, judging by her behavior, our alienating parent suffers from Projection. So we spent some time looking into “Projection.” And here is what we found:
Projection: The act of attributing one’s own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
Because people with Personality Disorders have an unstable view of themselves, sometimes they can lose track of where their own identity ends and someone else’s begins. In psychological terms, this is known as an Identity Disturbance. [This is interesting, given our alienating parent’s habit of becoming interested in matters that I am interested in: genealogy, photography, etc.]
[Identity disturbance is a multifaceted construct that distinguishes patients with borderline personality disorder from other patients. Some of its components are related to a history of sexual abuse, whereas others are not. Identity disturbance appears to be characteristic of borderline patients whether or not they have an abuse history.]
As these Identity Disturbances blur the lines between the self and others, sometimes people with Personality Disorders will attribute their own personal and psychological characteristics to others. This practice is known as projection.
In some forms it’s relatively harmless, such as a Personality Disordered person believing their own likes, dislikes, feeling, opinions or beliefs actually belong to another person.
It can however become malignant when it involves attribution of the Personality Disordered individuals own actions, words, blame, fault, hatred, liability or flawed character onto another. This is especially the case when the Projection then becomes justification for some form of punishment or abuse. [Our alienating parent was abused by her own father as a child.]
Projection can either be conscious – where the perpetrator knows they are deliberately deflecting blame or liability onto another person – or subconscious – where the perpetrator is unaware they are distorting or dissociating the facts.
Sometimes it is simply the result of good old fashioned Blaming – where blame or responsibility for a problem is conveniently attributed to another person. Projection can also occur as a result of Dissociation and a departure from reality-based thinking. It’s extremely difficult to prove if a Personality Disordered person believes their own statements of Projection, which also means it is generally an exercise in futility trying to argue the case for your own reality.