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A Note on Projection

A Note on Projection

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Projection is defined as "the process of unwittingly attributing one's own traits, attitudes or subjective processes to others" (English & English, 1958).

In this article author Philip H. Chase evaluates Minnesota Murstein and Fryer's article on the concept of projection and whilst acknowledging their laudable motives, he goes on to identify what he sees as "glaring faults in formulation, categorization and definition."
Projection is defined as "the process of unwittingly attributing one's own traits, attitudes or subjective processes to others" (English & English, 1958).

In this article author Philip H. Chase evaluates Minnesota Murstein and Fryer's article on the concept of projection and whilst acknowledging their laudable motives, he goes on to identify what he sees as "glaring faults in formulation, categorization and definition."

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: David on Feb 05, 2010
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05/11/2014

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A Note on Projection
By: Philip H. Chase
Originally published in
Psychological Bulletin
(1960, vol. 57, No, 4, 289-290)
 
Minnesota Murstein and Fryer's article on the concept of projection (1959)surely reflects laudable motives, and their review of relevant research containsa number of astute observations. There appear to be, however, rather glaringfaults in formulation, categorization and definition.Let us agree that "if 'projection' means everything it means nothing" (Murray,1951, p. 13). It is then difficult to see, except by Murstein and Fryer's finaldefinition of projection (1959, p. 370), why they quoted Zilboorg's quote fromthe Malleus Maleficarum (Murstein & Fryer, 1959, p. 353). Hallucination, notprojection, is the term usually applied when "devils stir up the innerperceptions" so "that they appear to be a new impression—from exteriorthings." Quotes from Murphy and Sears (Murstein & Fryer, 1959, p. 354) areinteresting but will be seen to bear more relation to "New Look" perceptionthan to projection. We shall also see that the admonition above had noapparent effect on their final definition of projection.One can take issue with the authors' classification system on the followinggrounds. Unless we wish to emasculate the term "projection," it would seemappropriate to use it only when the process referred to involves the attributionof internal characteristics to some external person or objects. Inaccurateextension of the term may well have played a major role in the confusionrecognized, but, nevertheless, added to by Murstein and Fryer.Projection is defined as "the process of unwittingly attributing one's own traits,attitudes or subjective processes to others" (English & English, 1958). Inrelation to this definition the Murstein and Fryer classification of "attributiveprojection" is clearly redundant and relatively useless for purposes of classification. A more useful classification would result from considering thepresumed purposes of the mechanism.Two major categories are immediately obvious. We might term one typedefensive projection and the other predictive projection. In the case of defensive projection the mechanism is seen to operate in defense of the ego.
 
One's own unacceptable or denied characteristics are attributed to another.Murstein and Fryer's "classical projection" clearly falls into this category, andwe may dispense with the rather loaded term "classical." In the case of predictive projection a problem in forecasting or describing the behavior orcharacteristics of others is the task of the individual. In the face of insufficientevidence about the objects of his predictions or forecasts, the 5 tends toattribute some of his own characteristics to the object. The comments cited byMurstein and Fryer to support their category of "attributive projection" allinvolve the predictive or forecasting aspect as the primary purpose of themechanism.One can see that Murstein and Fryer are on tenuous ground when in discussingtheir "attributive projection" they attempt to dispense with both theunconscious and the self-concept. They state that this category is notconcerned with either concept. It can be easily argued that personalityprojection of any kind cannot occur without a self-concept to project from, andthat the self-concept and projective process may be characterized by aconsiderable range of consciousness although it is likely that defensiveprojection, at the time it occurs, is largely unconscious.It is difficult to understand what prompted Murstein and Pryer to include acategory of "autistic projection." Relying for definition again on the dictionary(English & English, 1958) we find that "autism" is defined as: "a tendency inone's thinking or perceiving to be regulated unduly by personal desires orneeds, at the expense of regulation by objective reality—" (p. 59). Is itunreasonable to classify all personality projection as autistic? In defensiveprojection the need which clearly exerts such a strong effect is ego defense. Inpredictive projection the need is a function of the lack of data about the object.If we follow Murstein and Pryer we would have to define all need-determinedperception as projection.The logic that prompted Murstein and Pryer to categorize the rationalization of projection as a type of projection is difficult to understand. Rationalization is a

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