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Projection: A Narcissist’s Deadly Weapon – Orange County Divorce & Family Law


Our firm specializes in divorce and family law cases that are complicated by narcissism and other personality disorders, and we’ve written an extensive catalog of posts about how to handle the situation if your ex is a narcissist. And today we are talking about how narcissists use projection in their relationships.

What is projection?

Psychology Today described this phenomenon very well…

Projection is the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person, animal, or object. The term is most commonly used to describe defensive projection—attributing one’s own unacceptable urges to another. For example, if someone continuously bullies and ridicules a peer about his insecurities, the bully might be projecting his own struggle with self-esteem onto the other person.

An example of projection would be the following: A married man who is attracted to a female coworker, but rather than admit this to himself, he might accuse her of flirting with him. Another would be a woman wrestling with the urge to steal, who comes to believe that her neighbors are trying to break into her home.

Phrases You Might Use in a Situation with Narcissistic Projection

  • “What is your evidence for that assertion?”
  • “I disagree with you.”
  • “I see things differently, but I’m not willing to argue about it.”
  • “Your opinion is not something that I am responsible for.”

The Narcissist Must Project to Protect Themselves

Projection is a tool that deals with negative internal feelings without the uncomfortable process of self-accountability. By projecting their faults onto others, the narcissist avoids self-examination and reflection. To give an example, think of a situation where a narcissistic man desperately craves extramarital attention from the opposite sex. Suddenly, for no cause, he might start accusing his wife of “showing off” or dressing immodestly to try and get attention from other men. By displacing his feelings onto her, he avoids thinking about his own need for attention and has a cause to feel self-righteous anger instead.

Should I Confront Them?

If you are narcissistic projections, confronting the narcissist is probably useless. Expect anger and denial if you choose to voice the opinion that they are projecting. The subconscious mind is where the projection process originates. The truth is that many times even the narcissist may not be consciously aware that they are projecting their insecurities onto others.  It’s good to get the support you need from a trained mental health professional if you are dealing with projection from a narcissist in your life.

Things to Do When Handling Narcissist Projection in A Divorce

  • Let go of the need to convince the narcissist he or she is projecting. You can’t force someone else to look within or do serious introspection.
  • Keep evidence close at hand. Stick to written communications if possible. Keep financial and other records safe.
  • You need a specialist who can handle cases complicated by personality disorders and high conflict divorces.
  • Get into therapy. Your therapist can help you evaluate yourself if you receive criticism that is the result of projection. He or she will help you set boundaries as needed.

Do you have a divorce or family law question?

Call our office today at 949-889-1227. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by narcissism, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation.  to learn more.

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