Projection is the way the psyche interacts and distinguishes itself from the outside world. That is to say: it’s how we get to know ourselves. A perfectly normal system. The problem with projection is when we obtusely stick at it. It becomes an issue when instead of learning we stuck at that specific viewpoint.
S. Freud realized through the interpretation of dreams that instead of taking one’s characteristics, the ego throw them to somebody else. It’s a consciousness disguised way to deal with delicate matters in a softer, indirect manner.
C. G. Jung going further understood that this is how things work at a psychological level. Because projection is such a common psychic dynamic it must serve a higher purpose than just as a simple disguise, like a kid who did something wrong and has his friend blamed. We are much more than that.
We know ourselves through the things and people we like and dislike. Projection is not only negative. It’s also positive. We projects on heroes and public figures, or simply on the classmate, the neighbor and friend the traits we admire but believe don’t belong to us. Why?
Habits, culture, family history and bias. We create idols and shining potent people from our own psychological “blood and flesh”. We empower them with our own power, just because we believe that they have what we don’t, they are what we, unfortunately, aren’t.
Sometimes people prefer to have idols to worship so that they don’t need to get up and go for it. It takes a lot of effort to realize a dream, to change a pattern, and to be who you want to be. Idols, like stuffed animals, are likable, they can stand on a shelf and remind us that that a beautiful life does exist… But let’s now go back to the couch, to relax and munch some popcorns.
The same applies to negative projections. We get rid of what is unpleasant to face throwing it onto somebody else. We literally wear the other person with our own fantasies. That’s another way to create a comfortable world: we have the idols on one shelf and the evil on the other. And what about us? We can comfortably stretch our legs on that same sofa…
But let’s not be so quick. Humans to have a tendency to avoid efforts. Psychological changes require energy, action, movement. It’s sweaty and effortful, not easy at all. On the other hand, it’s immensely rewarding as some know. The less conscious people are about themselves the more their projections will be far from reality, a giant balloon. But still there must be a hook to hold them, the people we projects traits on are not totally innocent.
As Jung says the object of our projection must offer a hook. We are not crazy people who can see a horse and project onto it a monkey image! The idols does have some of the qualities we give them. The evil person does have a bad character. The point is that projection that remain unconscious creates absolute. So idols become The Idols, and a bad person turns into The Evil. This is the childish part of this story.
Once you become conscious of your projection it’s not that instantaneously there are no idols and no evils anymore. It’s just that you are not so much bothered by them. You stop being a pious follower of new idols or a gossiper of the bad people you know. Meanwhile, those people will continue to be what they are, it’s you who have become greater and freer. You got to understand them through yourself, by reaching farther that your naïve ego, on the common human background you found both of you. Now you quite understand why those people are the way they are. What has to be learned belongs now to you. The rest went to the garbage. And you move on.