In 2012, I met someone who opened my eyes when it comes to today’s topic: projection and reverse psychology. Since that meeting I finally understand some people from my past and present life. Also, I was finally able to understand and “archive” some past events.
Reverse psychology refers to getting another person to do or say something by telling them the opposite of what is desired. It’s a form of manipulation that has questionable success. Parents may use it towards their children. (Source). Closely related are Projection and Projective Identification. Projective Identification is a way to be aggressive while appearing to be the victim. Some examples of Projection are: 1) The angry person accuses someone else being angry, 2) A liar accuses others of lying, 3) The cheater accuses others of cheating, and 4) The thief accuses others of stealing. (Source)
Anger is a drug for people who are likely to be in deep denial and see themselves as the victim or an avenging agent of good. If they are angry for a reason, they are innocent of wrongdoing and guilt. Anger is purity, anger is a sublime state of grace, being angry never means having to say you’re sorry, it just means you weren’t angry enough. (Source)
Projection is essential for chronic anger so anger always be rationalised and excused as self defense. Guilt often accompanies anger, and if someone feels guilty all the time, guilt is projected onto other people. Since the person who suffers from chronic guilt believes that other people also feel guilty, then it is clear that other people must have done something wrong. In other words, if someone feels guilt, through projection they believe that it’s other people who need to be punished. (Source)
Chronic anger plays out several ways in relationships: 1) It ends. It might be messy, but at least one party never looks back and it’s over (the healthy use of anger), 2) A long descent into grinding mutual hatred, and 3) One party goes literally psycho and seeks the destruction of the other party, physically, financially, socially, or maybe with ax. (Source). Personally, I witnessed the following order of events: 2 (both), then 1 (me), then 3 (her), and finally 1 (her).
Reverse psychology and projection within a relationship come very close to brainwashing. Often it comes with increased isolation from family and friends. This isolation even feels like exercising your own free will while it was clearly not, with hindsight. The impact of reverse psychology and projection within a relationship is huge as it is exercised by a trusted party. It may take very long before the genuine motives of that trusted party are questioned. Family and friends typically do not interfere as they are afraid that it would hurt family ties and friendships which it indeed usually does. The parents may even embrace the other partner and practically reject their own child. Probably as they are afraid to lose visiting rights to their grand children. Nevertheless, it hurts.
The aggressor tries to bait a victim into giving them the proof they need so desperately to validate their own anger. Then they can rally their friends or family for an attack. Bonus points are awarded for gaining sympathy and being the center of attention. The manipulator poses as a hapless victim, but orchestrates the whole performance for an audience. It could be used for good, but it seems like it’s always a form of aggression, specifically covert aggression. (Source)
Here’s the part that is strange and hard to grasp: the manipulator usually does not know what they are doing. Projection itself is a defense, but there are layers and layers of defenses, mostly what we would call “denial.” Often these beliefs are paranoid. (Source)
Forgiving yourself is the only road to salvation. Denial is a never-ending road to nowhere.