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on Healthy Feelings!
Talk, Trust & Feel
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Dr. Lynne Namka
Licensed Psychologist
www.AngriesOut.com

 

Why Did Johnny Kill?
School Violence Explained

The Dynamics of Rejection, Isolation, Bullying,
Shame, Anger and Acting Out in Rage in Children


A Summary of the
Interim Secret Service Report on School Violence


page 33

© Lynne Namka, Ed. D.


PROJECTION --
FIRST CAST THE MOTE OUT OF THINE OWN EYE!


Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
, © 2001


People often see their own attitudes and behavior as "normal" and overestimate the worst in others. They see others as bad while excusing the same traits in themselves. They often assume a "False Consensus Effect" that others perceive things the way they do. We all have a bit of projection in us, but some people have the need to blame others big time, thus obstructing their own growth and learning.

Projection is a common defense mechanism where a person gets upset with a trait in someone else that he wishes to deny in himself. They suppress the knowledge that they have the same trait and externalize blame on the other person. They are highly sensitized to the unwanted behaviors in others and transfer their horror and anger at their own unwanted inner trait to an outside person. Much of their internal thought or words during an argument is focused on blaming the other person.

People who project blame often feel a hidden stigma and shame at possessing a disgraceful personality trait so they "project" or transfer anger on others to distract themselves from knowing the truth about their own self. They become so highly sensitized to the presence of their unwanted traits that it interferes with their social informational processing. So they don't see reality as it is and then operate out of their misperceptions.

Another form of projection is to transfer the arrows and slings of life onto "bad luck" or "fate." People who project often have other defenses such as Overgeneralized Thinking, which is the habit of making statements that emphasize that things are always that way. Examples of this type of thinking are: "He never considers my opinion," "You always put me down," "She always tells me what to do," "I have to do all the work," "I never get a break," "Why can't you ever get it right?" and "I can't stand it," or "I can't take anymore." Overgeneralization language uses words like "never, always, should and everybody or nobody."

People who blame others frequently have a habit of Focusing on Right And Wrong and Dwelling on Perceived Injustice. They often say, "It's not fair!" and dwell on the negative. They keep score of slights from others and dwelling on them creating a climate of hurt and suspicion. They have a list of "shoulds" for their partner that are inconsistent with his or her personality, and which will undermine a relationship. Focusing on unfairness keeps them caught in anger, resentment and grudges. (Hey, life frequently is unfair, but focusing on it only makes you more miserable!)

People who blame others or situations without taking responsibility for their contribution to the problem never get the sense of satisfaction of growth. By refusing to see their own errors, they lose the opportunity to change the very aspects of themselves that keep them stuck.

The Narcissistic Stance "I Want To Feel No Way But Good."

Narcissism according to Freudian theory is an irrational belief that the person they choose for a partner will give them perfect love and make up for all the hurts and slights of their life. People with narcissistic thinking and behavior strive to defend their fragile self esteem through fantasy and have a huge blind spot in their way of thinking. Fantasy and unrealistic expectations take the place of life. People with narcissistic tendencies have other defenses and errors in thinking such as denial, repression of feelings, black and white thinking and externalization of blame. They are often rigid and have a strong need to be right. They feel an increase in self-esteem when they get what they want and feel no remorse at using others. They are supersensitive to criticism and either attack the other person or leave the scene. They can pout and give the silent treatment or hold grudges. This combination of these defenses that distort reality often set them up for failure in partnerships.
Now we all have a bit of narcissism and indeed need some of it to survive. Otherwise we would end up giving away everything. Getting a good balance between taking from others and giving to them is called "Healthy Narcissism."

People with severe narcissistic traits long for ideal love that will take care of their fragile sense of self and give them unconditional love. The yearning for getting unconditional love is an unresolved need left over from childhood. Most adults realize it would be nice but that it rarely happens as people we love usually hold us accountable for our actions in some way. They distort their self-image (again in fantasy to believe that they are superior to others. They think too well of themselves as a defense to cover up their sense of shame deep within. Grandiosity is a distortion that prevents them from blaming themselves and becoming depressed or disintegrated.

The two greatest fears we humans have in relationship are fears of engulfment (smothering, being controlled by someone else) and fears of rejection and abandonment. And to spice up the human drama, our greatest longings are the needs for connection and the opposite need for space and individuality. And so the couple dance is set playing out these great, universal themes. People with narcissistic traits play both these fears out in the relationships with their significant others, yearning for closeness and fearing it the same time.

In the narcissistic mind, there is a gap between the idealized love and the actual day-to-day dealings with their partner. They long for symbiosis with the idealized love to stabilize the self, but they fear being traumatized by the partner. They seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and try to gain approval and recognition. When this does not come forth readily, they feel wounded and hurt and attacked. Constantly seeking attention and approval puts them in the precarious position of always needing something from somebody else.

Fantasy is an attempt to process information and emotions and unresolved pain to make up for what they did not have in childhood. They place unrealistic demands on others to make them feel better. J. S. Bernstein defined this defense as a person's "Learning to feel no way but good and to demand success when he did not feel good." They cannot tolerate negative emotional distress and turn it on others (project) by saying they are bad. They insist on having things their own way that is an unreal attitude that sets others off against them. When they don't get what they want, they feel devalued.

People who cannot tolerate their own feelings of fear, hurt, anxiety, helplessness and despair, certainly cannot recognize these emotions in others. They deny and rationalize their own contribution to the problems to preserve their own internal fantasy of being all good and right. They also suffer from the Repressor and Projection defenses described above. Narcissistic people always are Repressors to some degree, but not all Repressors are Narcissistic.

Narcissists have a lack of insight about understanding and processing of feelings. Instead they deny them and run from them. They avoid taking risks to love and never learn to develop true intimacy. They would rather threaten their relationship than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury to their self-esteem. They are slow to learn the all important skills of commitment such as sympathy, understanding the intentions and motives of their partner, compassion and empathy. They often discount the concerns of others, dismiss issues in their relationships and pull away from their partner. The narcissistic defenses of becoming angry, shutting down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling safe in the moment. But the partner becomes highly threatened and angry thus weakening the relationship.

The antidote to narcissistic behavior is to understand how the defenses work, identify and correct the errors in thinking and learn to tolerate frustration, anxiety, sadness and shame. By learning to be straight first with the self, and then with others, these unhealthy defenses can be lessened. Then the person can learn to live in the world of reality, even though it hurts at times, instead of turning to fantasy that can never be gained. With hard work, people with narcissistic defenses can learn conflict negotiation and appropriate, safe anger expression. As they can learn to become more real with their feelings, they will gain self-esteem by stretching and growing, even if it means being vulnerable to uncomfortable emotional states. As these skills are learned, they can achieve more satisfying and balanced relationships with others.



School Violence Explained: Table of Contents

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Permission is provided for the use of the materials in this Report,
provided appropriate acknowledgment
and Dr. Namka's web site, http://AngriesOut.com, is given.

 



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