Life in a small town

Psychological Projection and Transference …

Kananaskis Range

Kananaskis Range

Well, here we go. I have been kicking around  the idea of writing about the subject concept (above) for several years now, (even before I started blogging in 2014) ever since an old atheist friend of mine first accused me (several years ago) of employing this as a subterfuge when discussing the sometimes inconsistent behaviour of public figures in academia, media, entertainment as well as bureaucratic, ministerial, and elected officials in our government(s) at all levels.

But after writing over 800 words I decided that I really didn’t have anything meaningful to add to the topic from my own experience and rather than bore every one and rather than indulge myself in more or less exactly what I wrote about in the last two posts I would just point interested parties to the Wikipedia article on the subject.

So, if you are interested and don’t want to spend 4 or more years studying this in school then surf on over to

I’ll just add, that I read at the very end of the same Wiki article about criticism of this theory of projection. Research conducted by Baumeister, Roy F.; Dale, Karen; Sommer, Kristin L. (1998). (called “Freudian Defense Mechanisms and Empirical Findings in Modern Social Psychology: Reaction Formation, Projection, Displacement, Undoing, Isolation, Sublimation, and Denial” found in the  Journal of Personality) 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.





The Inner Struggle

Atheists Don’t Really Exist…

Watched a fascinating program on the satellite this AM. Fascinating for me at least, and fascinating because I have always wondered in my limited way about the impossibility of any human being understanding the BEING of God. I always come up against the dog in the library analogy and eventually succumb to an overwhelming sense of the futility of trying to understand.

Anyway, this was a part of a series delivered by Fr. Robert Barron. In it, Fr. Barron addresses the common misconceptions about the nature of God that lead so many who worship at the altar of science to deny God exists. According to Fr. Barron, the atheist critique hinges on their mistaken understanding of God as “the supreme instance of the category of being.” Citing St. Thomas Aquinas, Barron argues that this is exactly what God is not. Rather God is ipsum esse subsitens, that is, the subsistent act of being itself.

“The sciences in principle cannot eliminate God, because God is not some phenomena in the world.” Scientists and those who consider themselves atheists confine themselves to the material realm which is measurable and testable and are rightly proud of all that has been achieved in that realm, but even the most obstinate materialist cannot help but hear the echoes of truths from beyond the particular and contingent.

As Fr. Barron says: “We are constantly struck by the contingency of things (their coming into being and their passing away), but we also have a deep sense of their rootedness in BEING. That’s God. The non-contingent ground of Being.”

Then browsing the comments at another site … Crisis Magazine … I come across this one from a self proclaimed atheist addressing theists:

“If my mind were made up, I might not be here, but I have compassion for the less fortunate, such as yourself. I feel sorry for you and would like to help you overcome the binders that disfigure your spirit. And where have I attacked believers? Pointing out your hubris, your unchristian behaviour, your desire to control and dominate others is merely holding a mirror to your arrogance in the hope of letting you see who you really are. As I said, I pity you. I would save you, if I could. But you (we believers) have already closed your mind to truth, live, and justice.”

This echoes a common position adopted by people I know, some of whom I consider friends, when we are discussing our beliefs and why we hold them. We never seem to ever be able to actually “discuss” anything … never any real answer to any Thomist positions on the existence of God. It always degenerates into ad-hominum. Why are atheists so afraid? Why do they always almost immediately slide into attacking those with other views?

In another part of the same magazine web site I come across this:

“Confirmation bias is the tendency to ascribe greater significance to information that supports our pre-existing theories and lesser significance to information that contradicts those theories. We often do this subconsciously. For example you get a new car, and now you notice that same type of car on the road with a much greater frequency than you had noticed before. But though confirmation bias generally refers to the inclusion or exclusion of data, there are other ways we can shoehorn the obvious to make it fit within our world view.”

So I have a new concept to add to the others I have learned from discussions my atheist friends.

  • Confirmation Bias
  • Psychological Projection
  • Transference

These three concepts go a long way towards explaining the underlying “logic”  of the progressive position.







Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately


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 …




Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle


Quoted from an article published in Atlantic Monthly in 1936 by Albert Jay Nock. I have always both enjoyed his article and been troubled by it as well because we are ALL souls, and I just don’t believe that the Lord writes folks off because they don’t meet some human standard of ability and discernment. Anyway, for starters, here is Albert Jay Nock’s beef about the masses:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, about 740 B.C., the Lord commissioned the prophet Isaiah to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are.” He said, “Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? “Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.”

Apparently, then, if the Lord’s word is good for anything – I do not offer any opinion about that, – the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it. This is a very striking and suggestive idea; but before going on to explore it, we need to be quite clear about our terms. What do we mean by the masses, and what by the Remnant?

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, labouring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.”

Now it is rather understandable how one could develop this opinion, especially observing the content of sites like

and having a high opinion of one’s own views and abilities (coincidentally, not unlike the posters on the site above). I recently discovered that every objection to current liberal progressive opinion which I could marshal based on evidence was in “reality” all attributable to “psychological projection” and “transference”. I was, in reality, an evil nasty brute “projecting” all my worst traits onto my “opponent”. It was one of the most articulate “Ad Hominum” defenses I have been subjected to over the years but as usual it did not respond in any way to the facts presented. I have to say that on the whole it is more pleasant to be blown off in multisylabic jargon that simply being told to “F— Off and Die!” but it amounts to the same thing. If your position is weak, or you feel insecure in your stance, then of course kill the messenger.

Now, Isaiah’s testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah’s fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts. Curiously, too, he applies Isaiah’s own word remnant to the worthier portion of Athenian society; “there is but a very small remnant,” he says, of those who possess a saving force of intellect and force of character – too small, preciously as to Judea, to be of any avail against the ignorant and vicious preponderance of the masses.

Still more quote:  “The picture which Isaiah presents of the Judean masses is most unfavorable. In his view, the mass-man – be he high or be he lowly, rich or poor, prince or pauper – gets off very badly. He appears as not only weak-minded and weak-willed, but as by consequence knavish, arrogant, grasping, dissipated, unprincipled, unscrupulous. The mass-woman also gets off badly, as sharing all the mass-man’s untoward qualities, and contributing a few of her own in the way of vanity and laziness, extravagance and foible. The list of luxury-products that she patronized is interesting;  … in another place, Isaiah even recalls the affectations that we used to know by the name “flapper gait” and the “debutante slouch.” It may be fair to discount Isaiah’s vivacity a little for prophetic fervour; after all, since his real job was not to convert the masses but to brace and reassure the Remnant, he probably felt that he might lay it on indiscriminately and as thick as he liked – in fact, that he was expected to do so. But even so, the Judean mass-man must have been a most objectionable individual, and the mass-woman utterly odious.”

Not a pleasant picture at all … hmmmm.

On the other hand :“Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Two.


No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine in what I think, say, do , achieve. And conversely my life spills over into that of others: for better or for worse.So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death.  In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a certain part in his purification”

Pope Benedict XVI “Spe Salvi” 

I wonder (figuratively speaking of course) which attitude evolves into a better, more positive, more loving society, a culture of positive rather than negative lenses.  Tell one person that you love him or her.




Disclaimer for the nit pickers: we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Why so Angry and Cynical …

Look into the mirror and turn your eyes back upon yourself, and see that you do not judge the doings and sayings of others. In judging others you expend effort for nothing, often are mistaken, and easily offend. But in judging and looking into yourself you work with good results.

We often judge things, actions and speech according to our own biases and beliefs, our heart’s preferences and desires. In this we very easily loose site of true vision and judgement due to private affections and personal preferences.

There is probably a post about psychological projection and transference in there somewhere but it has not risen to the surface yet.