Projection and fragility

When mildly or moderately fragile patients experience a low rise of mixed feelings, they can still intellectualize and exhibit tiny sighs. However, as those mixed feelings rise, they are no longer able to bear the rising feelings. In response, sighing stops and anxiety shifts into cognitive perceptual disruption. To stop the worst of those symptoms, patients split feelings off from themselves and project them onto others.

They no longer fear their feelings; they fear the people onto whom they have projected their feelings. They no longer relate to people; they interact with the projects placed upon those people. They are no longer anxious due to internal feelings; they are afraid of those feelings they perceive in other people.

Projection of anger

“You look angry.”

“You wanted to kick me out of therapy.”

Projection of will/desire/love

“I’m afraid of the questions you want to ask.”

“I feel like you are trying to get into my head.”

Projection of disowned parts of self

“You think I’m psychotic and want to put me in a hospital.”

Notice that projection involves qualities, feelings, or wishes of oneself. This is different from transference.


Transference involves projection, not of a part of himself, but of an image of another person.

“My boss treats me like an incompetent boy.”

Here, the patient projects, not a feeling or desire within himself, but an image of a person, his father, onto his boss. This is transference, not the kind of projection we see in fragility.






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