Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Everywhere in Chains … part 2 …

So we looked at:

  1. We have an unfounded belief that we “are practically perfect in every way”.
  2. We have a propensity to do “bad” things as our passions dictate.
  3. We have internal conflict resulting from being unable to square the circle of 2 with the belief of 1.
  4. We try to deal with the conflict by denying culpability.

Now lets look at how we deny culpability …

There is one more type of culpability, and that is strict liability. In strict liability crimes, the actor is responsible no matter what his mental state; if the result occurs, the actor is liable. An example is the felony murder rule: if the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt that one commits a qualifying felony during which death results, one is held strictly liable for murder and the prosecution does not have to prove any of the normal culpability requirements for murder.
continued from part 1 …

There are no innocent people, only those not under investigation for this particular wrong”

Dealing with our guilt:  The primary method for dealing with guilt after avoiding blame is “Scapegoating”  (from the verb “to scapegoat”) This is the practice of singling out any party(s) for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals (e.g. “he did it, not me!”), individuals against groups (e.g., “I couldn’t see anything because of all the tall people”), groups against individuals (e.g., “Jane was the reason our team didn’t win”), and groups against groups.

A scapegoat may be an adult, sibling, child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious group, or country. A whipping boy, identified patient or “fall guy” are forms of scapegoat.  Scapegoating is the process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; with the amount of blame being being unwarranted.  Scapegoating is a tactic often employed to characterize an entire group of individuals according to the unethical or immoral conduct of a small number of individuals belonging to that group. Scapegoating relates to guilt by association and stereotyping.

Scapegoated groups throughout history have included almost every imaginable group of people: genders, religions, people of different races, nations, or sexual orientations, people with different political beliefs, or people differing in behaviour from the majority. However, scapegoating may also be applied to organizations, such as governments, corporations, or various political groups.  Unwanted thoughts and feelings can be unconsciously projected onto another who becomes a scapegoat for one’s own problems. This concept can be extended to projection by groups. In this case the chosen individual, or group, becomes the scapegoat for the group’s problems. “Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals.” Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung considered indeed that “there must be some people who behave in the wrong way; they act as scapegoats and objects of interest for the normal ones”.


Psychological projection:  is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.  According to some research, the projection of one’s negative qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life.  Projection (German: Projektion) was conceptualized by Freud in his letters to Wilhelm Fliess, and further refined by Karl Abraham and Anna Freud. Freud considered that in projection thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings that cannot be accepted as one’s own are dealt with by being placed in the outside world and attributed to someone else. What the ego repudiates is split off and placed in another.

Freud would later come to believe that projection did not take place arbitrarily, but rather seized on and exaggerated an element that already existed on a small scale in the other person.  The related defense of projective identification differs from projection in that there the other person is expected to become identified with the impulse or desire projected outside, so that the self maintains a connection with what is projected, in contrast to the total repudiation of projection proper.

Melanie Klein saw the projection of good parts of the self as leading potentially to over-idealization of the object. Equally, it may be one’s conscience that is projected, in an attempt to escape its control: a more benign version of this allows one to come to terms with outside authority.  Projection tends to come to the fore in normal people at times of crisis, personal or political, but is more commonly found in the neurotic or psychotic—in personalities functioning at a primitive level as in narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.

Carl Jung considered that the unacceptable parts of the personality represented by the Shadow archetype were particularly likely to give rise to projection, both small-scale and on a national/international basis. Marie-Louise Von Franz extended his view of projection, stating that: “… wherever known reality stops, where we touch the unknown, there we project an archetypal image”.  Psychological projection is one of the medical explanations of bewitchment used to explain the behavior of the afflicted children at Salem in 1692. The historian John Demos asserts that the symptoms of bewitchment experienced by the afflicted girls were due to the girls undergoing psychological projection of repressed aggression.

Some of this feels like the Narcissism post I wrote a while ago …

Blaming the victim: The victim of someone else’s accident or bad luck may be offered criticism, the theory being that the victim may be at fault for having attracted the other person’s hostility.

Projection of marital guilt: Thoughts of infidelity to a partner may be unconsciously projected in self-defense on to the partner in question, so that the guilt attached to the thoughts can be repudiated or turned to blame instead, in a process linked to denial.

Bullying: A bully may project his/her own feelings of vulnerability onto the target(s) of the bullying activity. Despite the fact that a bully’s typically denigrating activities are aimed at the bully’s targets, the true source of such negativity is ultimately almost always found in the bully’s own sense of personal insecurity and/or vulnerability. Such aggressive projections of displaced negative emotions can occur anywhere from the micro-level of interpersonal relationships, all the way up through to the macro-level of international politics, or even international armed conflict.

Projection of general guilt: Projection of a severe conscience is another form of defense, one which may be linked to the making of false accusations, personal or political.

Counter-projection:  “All projections provoke counter-projection when the object is unconscious of the quality projected upon it by the subject.” Thus what is unconscious in the recipient will be projected back onto the projector, precipitating a form of mutual acting out.  In a rather different usage, counter-projection can be seen in a therapeutic context as a way of warding off the compulsive re-enactment of a psychological trauma, by emphasizing the difference between the current situation and the projected obsession with the perceived perpetrator of the original trauma.  Some studies were critical of Freud’s theory.

False Consensus:  Research supports the existence of a false-consensus effect whereby humans have a broad tendency to believe that others are similar to themselves, and thus “project” their personal traits onto others. This applies to good traits as well as bad traits and is not a defense mechanism for denying the existence of the trait within the self.  Instead, Newman, Duff, and Baumeister (1997) proposed a new model of defensive projection. In this view, people try to suppress thoughts of their undesirable traits, and these efforts make those trait categories highly accessible—so that they are then used all the more often when forming impressions of others. The projection is then only a by-product of the real defensive mechanism.


 … it’s always someone else’s fault and they are way worse than I …

But we are all souls … success in this cultural swamp is not part of our intended mission … for all eternity …





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s