Projection is a term used in psychology to refer to the transfer of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and expectations onto another person, object, or situation. It is a defense mechanism that allows people to cope with anxiety and protect themselves from potential harm (Freud, 1923; Erikson, 1950). Projection is a way for people to deny or distort their own attributes or behavior by attributing them to another person.

The concept of projection was first introduced by Sigmund Freud in 1923. Freud believed that projection was a way for the ego to protect itself from anxiety. He argued that people repress their true feelings and instead attribute them to someone or something else (Freud, 1923). He argued that projection is a defense mechanism that allows people to deny their own flaws and misgivings.

In 1950, Erik Erikson proposed an updated version of Freud’s theory of projection. He argued that projection is a way of transferring one’s own feelings onto another person. He argued that people use projection to avoid taking responsibility for their own behavior and to avoid evaluating their own feelings (Erikson, 1950).

Projection is a common phenomenon in everyday life. It is often used to cope with anxiety or to avoid self-reflection. People may project their own feelings and expectations onto other people, objects, or situations. For example, a person may project their own feelings of anger onto a person they are arguing with. This may lead to an escalation of the argument and the person may become more angry than they would have been if they had not projected their feelings onto the other person.

Projection can also be used to cope with difficult emotions. People may project their own feelings of sadness onto a situation in order to distance themselves from the emotion and avoid facing it. This can be a helpful coping mechanism in the short-term but can be damaging in the long-term as it prevents the person from processing and understanding their emotions.

Projection is a complex phenomenon and is not always easy to identify. It is important to be aware of the potential for projection in everyday life and to be aware of how it can affect relationships. It is also important to recognize when one is using projection as a coping mechanism and to be mindful of how this can affect oneself and others.


Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Freud, S. (1923). The Ego and the Id. London: Hogarth Press.

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