22 Nov 2012

Projection, nations and the Jews

Why Do You Care About Israel and Palestine? | Clarissa's Blog

Projection isn’t so much rational as it is adaptive. Unfortunately, there is way too little written on this common mechanism. Also, people presume that adaptation is always good. It resonates well with those who have a superficial understanding of Darwinism, and believe that superior humans manifest greater adaptive characteristics than do inferior ones.

Let me explain a little more about adaptation though projection. One has to believe that wherever one finds oneself in the social order, this is where one ought to be. To entertain the feeling that one has characteristics that would fit one to be higher than one is, is to exacerbate a state of internal suffering. To avoid this feeling, one believes that everything has worked out as it should have. If one does have superior characteristics, one projects them up in the hierarchy. “It’s Professor X who has these qualities I admire.” If one has inferior qualities, like laziness or carelessness, one projects these downwards. “It’s student Y who needs to pull her socks up.” Having distributed oneself throughout the institution in this way, one feels adapted.

In the case of projecting things onto Jews, one feels that one has sunken pretty low within the society, and one desires that there would be something morally lower that would distract from having to think about one’s situation. The Jews are easy to blame because they haven’t had roots in most places for very long. They’re outsiders, who like to belong, but one could argue they don’t belong. Outsiders are lightning rods for any bad feelings in the community. Those who want to adapt especially attract the community’s hostility when it is undergoing stress. “You SEEM to be one of us, but you are in fact OTHER.” The person who wishes to adapt, or who adapts well, is open to the charge of deception as to their true identity. “They seem to be the same as us, but actually they act/feel/think differently.”

To adapt to trying times, the community must release its pent up tension into an enemy. Sometimes this enemy is external, sometimes it is internal. The pressure to adapt to trying circumstances is always profoundly felt — and thus, enemies are created. It is more convenient, and more cowardly, to project one’s anxieties, self-doubt and depression into those who are close by, rather than risk going to war with an external enemy. The wars that take place in most organisations, families and communities are means by which the members of the group attempt to achieve a sense of adaptation to stress. The desired outcome is a feeling of equilibrium and peace with oneself — and it doesn’t seem to matter who has to suffer for the members to achieve this state.

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