Recent Experiments in Psychology

By Leland W. Crafts; Theodore C. Schneirla et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
PROJECTION AND THE THEMATIC APPERCEPTION TEST

INTRODUCTION

Projection is one of the most common and one of the most important ways in which human beings perceive and think about objects in the external environment. According to Symonds1 it may be define as "the reference of impulses, thoughts, feelings and wishes originating in the person himself to persons and objects in the outside world." The process is usually (some say always) unconscious, in the sense that the individual does not know that he is coloring and perhaps distorting his apprehension of external objects and people by imbuing them with his own characteristics.

Most accounts of projection emphasize the point that we typically tend to project our undesirable traits.2 Thus a low-grade workman may blame his tools for his poor work, instead of himself, which means that he projects his own inefficiency into the instruments he uses and perceives them rather than his own clumsiness as at fault. An individual who is a habitual cheater may console himself with the reflection that everyone cheats anyway. Bernard Shaw is said to have remarked that the chief punishment of a liar is that he cannot believe others. The paranoiac projects his feelings of hatred and suspicion of other people and develops delusions of persecution, that is, convictions to the

____________________
1
Symonds P. M. The Dynamics of Human Adjustment, p. 296. New York, Appleton, 1946.
2
According to some definitions, projection always is defensive and involves the ascription of only undesirable traits to objects and to other persons. Thus Healyel al. define projection in psychoanalytic terms as a "defensive process under the sway of the pleasure principle whereby the ego thrusts forth on the external world wishes and ideas which, if allowed to penetrate into consciousness, would be painful to the ego." ( Healy., W., A. F. Bronner , and A. M. Bowers. The Structure and Meaning of Psychoanalysis. New York, Knopf, 1930.) To the reviewers, such an interpretation seems unduly narrow. Indeed, Freud himself came to use projection in the broader sense in which it will be employed in this chapter. (See Totem in Taboo in The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud. New York, Modern Lib., 1938.)

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