Carl Gustav Jung on projections

Greenpeace China action at Yongding Gate, Beijing, China (March 23, 2009)

Greenpeace China action at Yongding Gate, Beijing, China (March 23, 2009)
Photograph by Qi Jingyi
Image credit: Greenpeace

Although with insight and good will, the shadow can to some extent be assimilated into the conscious personality, experience shows that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to moral control and prove almost impossible to influence. These resistances are usually bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such, and their recognition is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. While some traits peculiar to the shadow can be recognized without too much difficulty as one’s own personal qualities, in this case both insight and good will are unavailing because the cause of the emotion appears to lie, beyond all possibility of doubt, in the other person. No matter how obvious it may be to the neutral observer that it is a matter of projections, there is little hope that the subject will perceive this himself. He must be convinced that he throws a very long shadow before he is willing to withdraw his emotionally-toned projections from their object.

Let us suppose that a certain individual shows no inclination whatever to recognize his projections. The projection-making factor then has a free hand and can realize its object—if it has one—or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power. As we know, it is not the conscious subject but the unconscious which does the projecting. Hence one meets with projections, one does not make them. The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one. Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face. In the last analysis, therefore, they lead to an autoerotic or autistic condition in which one dreams a world whose reality remains forever unattainable. The resultant sentiment d’incomplétude and the still worse feeling of sterility are in their turn explained by projection as the malevolence of the environment, and by means of this vicious circle the isolation is intensified. The more projections are thrust in between the subject and the environment, the harder it is for the ego to see through its illusions.
Carl Gustav Jung in “The Shadow and the Syzygy”, Part 1, “The Shadow,” paragraphs 16-17. Adapted from a lecture delivered to the Swiss Society for Practical Psychology in Zurich in 1948. Originally published in Wiener Zeitschrift für Nervenheilkunde und deren Grenzgebiete, Vol. I, (1948), p. 4. Available in Aspects of the Feminine, (Taylor & Francis, 1982), p. 166. Translated by R.F.C. Hull. Cited in part by Victor Mansfield in his paper “The Guru-Disciple Relationship: Making Connections and Withdrawing Projections,” (March 1996).

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"Although with insight and good will"
Carl Gustav Jung Posted on behalf of Carl Gustav Jung on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 under Quotations.

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