Posted by: Botolff | September 11, 2010

The Projection of Emotion

A sure yet illusive sign that evil is at work in people is when there is an inaccurate projection of someone’s emotion on to someone or something else.  In other words, an individual is experiencing intense feelings but doesn’t want to admit it, or address those feelings in themselves.  They may even be in complete denial that they feel anger, deceptive/manipulative, fear, depression, grief, joy, guilt etc.  Instead, they project that feeling on to someone else, and may even blame them for it.  For example, I knew a man at a church I was at who I believe was perpetuating a hidden but consistent level of domestic violence in his home.  Did I witness him “punishing” his wife or children?  Although I listened to him quietly belittle them, which was punishment enough, I never witnessed him striking them.  However, whenever we were out and about and his dog was with us, at the slightest hint of disobedience, he would hit, kick, and even one time pick the dog full up off the ground by the rap of the neck and body slam it onto the ground.  Who was the one with the problem?  He was.  In his eyes…the dog was.  It was the dog’s disobedience that “caused” him to express his emotion without taking any responsibility for it.  He is a man full of rage who needs an object to put that anger on and then blame for it.  It’s highly likely if he’s willing to  risk treating his dog that way in public with me around, he treats his family at least that bad when no one is around.  Very few people, if any, are able to contain a rage like that, and focus it on things other than the people who likely upset them the most.  But they are often good at hiding it from people who could expose them.

It’s a familiar experience for victims of abuse to feel the affects of a perpetrators emotion, and even to be made to feel guilty as if they themselves are the ones to blame.  Again, it’s a well crafted process that we use when we don’t want to take responsibility for our own emotions.  We all take an abusive stance at times…

“That @#$!%* just cut me off!!”
“Yeah, but dad, you were supposed to yield.  You have the sign.”
“Didn’t he see me coming?!  You can’t just go like that when there is someone coming!”
“He had the right of way.”
“He did it the wrong way.  You don’t just go when someone is there.”

Problem?  There could be a “@#$!%*” in the other car, but it seems there may also be one in the car that failed to yield at the sign.  The bigger problem doesn’t seem to be who’s the “@#$!%*”, but that the one truly in the wrong refuses to take responsibility for their own error.  Instead, in his rage, he places his anger at himself on the other person, and blames the other driver for exposing his error by taking the right of way that he deserved.  Then when challenged by his child, he refuses to acknowledge that he was in the wrong at all.  It totally becomes the other person’s fault.

Expose the sin/wickedness in us, and you will find out if we are repentant people.  In whatever situations/attitudes we will not accept responsibility for the specifics of when we are in the wrong, that’s when we make a covenant to be in control…often at all costs.  Just because someone says we are in the wrong doesn’t mean we are, but if we deny the times it is obvious that we are, and instead dump our emotions into other people, the more wicked we will become.  We will have to lie, cheat, steal and murder in order to make sure we protect our own reflection of our perfect self.  The more manipulative and controlling someone becomes in their wickedness, the better they will get at it, and the more other people will be made to pay.

Sometime I will walk through how emotions are projected on to people/things, and give some examples of how I have seen it happen.  Hopefully that will help to shed some light on why victims often feel responsible for their situations; and perpetrators often get away with pinning the problem on the victims.



  1. Thanks for the post. I am challenged to be honest with myself about myself. It’s hard to admit I do wrong. It’s always easier to see the bad in others. For me, it’s especially easy to see the bad in the perpetrator, but I want to realize honestly that I am capable of being a perpetrator of wrong. I’m always encouraged and challenged by your honesty to admit that you are capable of abusing as well as being abused and this post challenged me in that way. My kids are like my little mirrors now and it’s scary but good. They copy what I do and it makes me pause and realize that I can’t expect them to behave in a certain way if they don’t see me modeling it.
    Anyway, I may be rambling and making no sense, but I just wanted to say, thanks for the food for thought.

  2. Thanks for your honesty as well Keelie. If only we were the angels we perceive ourselves to be. It seems we all get wrapped up in the tug of war between good and evil, and can/will play both sides.
    I love that you see your children as mirrors, because I believe that’s the level of humility and awareness that will help to lessen the damage in the end. Boy don’t we hate to see that reflection sometimes though :).

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