Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Projection and Borderline Personality: Part 2


As I mentioned yesterday, projection isn’t uncommon. It can also be relatively benign - such as in attributing one's own likes, dislikes, opinions, beliefs or feelings to another person. Even positive projection can be insidious though, when it comes to Borderline Personality Disorder.

Complementary projection, for example, is a type of projection where one assumes that other people share the same opinions that he or she does. This phenomenon is quite common. For instance, whenever you hear a story about an animal that has been mistreated, you are shocked to discover that not everyone shares the same views regarding animal cruelty as you.

Or so we think
Complimentary projection is slightly different and not as common. People who employ complimentary projection assume that everyone has the same skills and ability as they do. For example, someone who is skilled in the kitchen might assume that everyone else is able to make a soufflĂ© with as much ease as they do. Of course, we all know that this is not the case. ::laughs:: I had a roommate at University that utterly failed at making a box mix cake and managed to destroy pots just by boiling water.  I was always floored when she would confess to making such a tragedy of my kitchen.

For someone with BPD, this might take the form of positive as well as negative emotions. I’m fair certain that I’ve done this with The One, Evil-Ex, and Friend to various to degrees… maybe even all my exes and lovers to an extent. I can focus so much on the good, the things we have in common, that it makes me feel as if we’re perfect for each other. No one else can or has ever understood me so well because they seem to ‘really get it’ on a level that other people haven’t.  When we have a shared interest it’s like the importance of that interest becomes compounded, highlighted to an intense degree. Really I think it’s the need to share something with someone in order to create a tangible attachment with them. I need that bond, that thing I can point to and say, see, there, that’s something major we have in common that proves we should be together in some way. And then I want them to see it too. I even think they do see it that way too. That they understand that sharing is between us and how great the importance of it is. This often leads to crushing disappointment when the other person wants to share the activity, hobby, whatever and invite someone else along. It’s so important to me, I project the importance onto someone else, due to my need for a strong attachment, so I can feel like I’m not alone. Then of course when they extend this thing to someone else I feel like the importance we shared has been severed and it’s like a physical blow to my chest.

It makes me consider the connection between projection, codependency, and idealization. It may explain why people with BPD become so attached to a particular person that they are the focus and center of our world. If we see that person as embodying all the positive characteristics that we value/value in ourselves, it complements our own need to have our sense of self-worth supported. If we’ve idealized someone by projecting all these positive qualities, to have them potentially leave would be crushing blow to the sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Self-worth becomes dependent on this person and having them remain in our life. Hm. This is my own theory, I’ve never read anything about this, but it makes sense to me. I’ll have to think on it further.

Even positive projection can be negative if it’s taken to an unhealthy extreme. My emotional investment in the projection would become so heightened that the reality of the situation was a devastation. I would get angry, pissed off, hurt, feel betrayed… the list goes on and on.  

So, some positive projection is a good thing. It helps people relate and bond. However overly positive projection may lead to adhesive bonding that would make superglue jealous. What do you think? 

12 comments:

  1. OMG! I think I'm starting to actually get it!!! It then becomes a loaded relationship from both sides! Kim:)

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  2. Hm, wish we covered projection and related topics in my psych courses. Maybe I haven't taken the correct ones yet.

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    1. There's plenty you can learn about it from the library or internet. The information's there.

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  3. From my experiences with my ex BPD gf, the projections generate feelings that seem real for her. So, a fantasy generates real feelings wich generate real actions. Talking with her about the past I've saw that she remembers it based on that feelings generated by projections. It's not a question of moments or punctual situations, it is a general way of coping with reality (alternative reality).

    Another interesting thing is about "the trap of mirroring". She mirrors me all the time not knowing that she really likes those actions. When she paints me black she hates me for the actions she made for me but it is a trap because many of it are exactly what she likes.

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    1. Projection is definitely a maladaptive coping mechanism. You're quite right, the imagined projection translates into real action, real emotion, and real response to that emotion.

      Can you really be sure that she does like those things though? Maybe you're projecting what you want onto her, to ease how she's hurt you. Not saying you are, but if she doesn't really know if she likes something, then I'm not sure it's possible for you to really say whether she likes it or not.

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  4. Projecting is a new concept for me, but I've always been "different" so I never assumed anyone was like me. Like with the animal cruelty thing. I probably care more about animals than I do people, and I know very few share this with me. Which goes back to me not caring about them. A vicious cycle, perhaps?

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    1. Amusingly I care more about animals than I do about people (in most instances) as well, haha. A vicious cycle indeed. It does make one wonder.

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  5. Hi Haven, I too have Borderline Personality Disorder (among other things lol).I just want to say thank you for posting your insights on your blog.Your posts have really helped me understand a lot more about what I am going through and BPD in general. I find your blog very interesting, though I obviously cant relate to absolutely everything you say, but Im open to learn and I love seeing other peoples points of view. Obviously yours too.In your posts you also write about the upside of things, which i find inspiring and appreciate. I just wanted to say that and give honor where honor is due, because incase you were wondering, it does help, so thanx.:) Be Blessed.

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    1. You're quite welcome. Thank you so much in kind. It's very heartening for me to hear that what I have to say does help in some way. I know everyone has different experiences and like you said, they won't always be relatable to mine, but it's my hope that it does help. If I have to feel this way and go through this stuff, at least I can try to turn it into a helpful experience.

      Cheers!

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  6. projecting a part of cominication or manipulation?

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  7. Projection itself is a natural thing we all do BPD or otherwise. When you first get into a relationship we tend to project all the things we are looking for on to our love interest, slowly taking them back over time. Finally we get to the point where we either still like someone or don't! Projection can be a nightmare - particularly when we are projecting what we don't like in ourselves on to others. I think it's one of those things that is useful to know so that we can be aware of it.

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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