Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche CW 8

Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be.

In this latter case, unfortunately, there is no scientific test that would prove the discrepancy between perception and reality.

Although the possibility of gross deception is infinitely greater here than in our perception of the physical world, we still go on naively projecting our own psychology into our fellow human beings.

In this way everyone creates for himself a series of more or less imaginary relationships based essentially on projection.

Among neurotics there are even cases where fantasy projections provide the sole means of human relationship.

A person whom I perceive mainly through my projections is an imago or, alternatively, a carrier of imagos or symbols.

All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects.

But if we are not aware that a property of the object is a projection, we cannot do anything else but be naively convinced that it really does belong to the object.

All human relationships swarm with these projections; anyone who cannot see this in his personal life need only have his attention drawn to the psychology of the press in wartime.

Cum grano salis, we always see our own unavowed mistakes in our opponent.

Excellent examples of this are to be found in all personal quarrels.

Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self-awareness we shall never see through our projections but must always succumb to them, because the mind in its natural state presupposes the existence of such projections.

It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be projected.

In a comparatively primitive person this creates that characteristic relationship to the object which Levy-Bruhl has fittingly called “mystic identity” or “participation mystique.”

Thus every normal person of our time, who is not reflective beyond the average, is bound to his environment by a whole system of projections.

So long as all goes well, he is totally unaware of the compulsive, i.e., “magical” or “mystical,” character of these relationships.

But if a paranoid disturbance sets in, then these unconscious relationships turn into so many compulsive ties, decked out, as a rule, with the same unconscious material that formed the content of these projections during the normal state.

So long as the libido can use these projections as agreeable and convenient bridges to the world, they will alleviate life in a positive way.

But as soon as the libido wants to strike out on another path, and for this purpose begins running back along the previous bridges of projection, they will work as the greatest hindrances it is possible to imagine, for they effectively prevent any real detachment from the former object.

We then witness the characteristic phenomenon of a person trying to devalue the former object as much as possible in order to detach his libido from it.

But as the previous identity is due to the projection of subjective contents, complete and final detachment can only take place when the imago that mirrored itself in the object is restored, together with its meaning, to the subject.

This restoration is achieved through conscious recognition of the projected content, that is, by acknowledging the “symbolic value” of the object. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 507