Posted by: Botolff | September 18, 2010

The Projected of Emotion continued

In the last post I mentioned that sometime I would share some examples of projected emotions.  I decided that soon I would offer some very real and personal accounts of what I have experienced, seen and perpetuated.  Why would I share my personal experiences?  Two reasons really…one, because, although some people contrive their stories, the accuracy of experiences can’t be any more consistent than from a first person vantage point; and two, because with the support of a number of people around me, I have been able to consider and accept the risks of sharing the details of my own story.

First, a little more about projected emotions…

So, what are projected emotions again?  Projected emotions are when we consciously or unconsciously decide that we aren’t going to deal with the emotional turmoil going on within ourselves.  Instead, we project, or put those emotions on someone else.  It is often more than just blaming the other person.  If done well enough we have the ability to make someone else actually experience the very emotions that we ourselves don’t want to have to feel.  Consider the driving example in the last post.  Likely the driver who didn’t yield had a less than friendly gesture or look on his face that he tried to convey a message with.  The driver in the right was probably meant to feel guilty for pressing on in his right of way.  If he is used to being shamed and accepting people’s shame, he may spend time the rest of the day reviewing what happened, and feeling guilty, even though he didn’t do anything wrong.  Meanwhile, the driver in the wrong probably will probably go on with the rest of his day and not return to thoughts of the incident on the road.  That is when projected emotion takes a hold on it’s victim.  When we are abused, we will often ingest our abuser’s emotions, because that’s the objective.  It is an attempt to make someone else take responsibility for the abuser’s emotions and condition.  It is likely that the abuser was forced or coerced into ingesting the emotions of another abuser or abusers when they were younger.  They couldn’t hold all the emotional abuse they experienced, so they learned to project it out on other people in order to survive.  The problem is they have learned it is the only way to survive, and haven’t taken into consideration that they no longer need to or should live that way after they have broken free from their abusers…if they ever have.  As narcissism or other personality disorders/mental illness (not always one in the same) set in, there can become a defiant commitment to remain in that state regardless of the consequences.  If the person continues in this behavior, we can find ourselves dealing with extreme psycho-pathologies or socio-pathologies.

Unless we learn to deal with the magnitude of our own emotional experiences, and find ways to sooth ourselves rationally without punishing ourselves or other people, we will either deteriorate under our own shame, or punish innocent people.  It’s not a matter of if we will, it’s when we will.  And if we get used to punishing people as a way of relating to our world and the people around us, eventually we will do it with such cunning and contempt, that it will not only leave our victims with serious scars, but we will also convince ourselves that we aren’t doing anything wrong.  And the cycle of abuse continues.

If there is an emotion, it can be projected.  Deception, love, fear, rage, forgiveness, remorse, happiness, hope, guilt, peace, seduction, etc.  All these emotions can be used to punish people.  We may think that emotions such as happiness, hope, remorse, forgiveness and peace would be “positive” emotions to project.  Although it is good to encourage people towards the “fruit of the Spirit”, it is not a good thing to try and make people adopt emotions that don’t represent the reality of their circumstances.  That’s called manipulation.  Under countless circumstances, abusers have attempt to convince their victims that they care about them and they would never wish harm on them or want to hurt them.  They will attempt to suggest their victims should be happy, hopeful, healthy, proud, forgiving, etc.  Rarely, if ever, are these “positive” emotions.  Most of the time the emotion at work is shame masked as something positive.  It’s another way to make the victim feel confused, guilty, afraid, shameful.

I believe it’s important to mention that these things happen in churches.  Not all churches, maybe not even the majority of churches.  Some churches?  More than a few churches?  I believe so.  Churches definitely can be, but are not necessarily, great breeding grounds for abuse.  More on that at another time.


  1. i agree

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