Magritte: The Rape, Le viol    

The Science of Sex


Basic Psychological Mechanisms: Neurosis and Projection


SIMON SHEPPARD


The Procedural Analysis system was developed with scant reference to conventional psychology which, in light of its current state, may be an advantage. To facilitate its comparison with orthodox thought two mechanisms of paramount importance, neurosis and projection, are discussed and formally defined.



1. Neurosis

The definition of neurosis in this system is taken from Pavlov: it is the stress induced when a single stimulus evokes two or more responses.

Neurosis will be better understood if we examine its probable origin. Then two primal neuroses have been defined: the Fundamental Human Neurosis and the Fundamental Female Neurosis.

The Fundamental Human Neurosis derives from the knowledge of impending death. Every organism strives to survive: even a humble fly avoids death because any creature which does not partake in "the eternal struggle for life" fails to pass on its genes, loses its competition with others and its characters disappear forever from the gene pool. Thus any creature which does not so partake has long become extinct. Similarly, humans do not generally contemplate death with happy expectation. This conflict, that we do not wish to die, while at the same time being conscious of its inevitability, is the Fundamental Human Neurosis. It accounts for the evolution of religion, which resolves it.

The origin of the Fundamental Female Neurosis is (predictably, since females are much more sexual than males) sex. The female, at least occasionally, wants sex, yet her basic evolution strategy relies on raising its value. (Recall that in this system sex is any non-monetary activity: any non-business relationship is sex, and 'sex,' 'physical sex' and 'relationships' are all equivalent since their only ultimate purpose is procreation.) Physical sex is the only amenity which females can provide which males cannot: hence all female procedures reduce to raising the value, i.e. the costs, of sex. Even though the female may desire sex, she denies it to the male to make it into a scarce resource. Thus its value is raised and her status increases.



2a. Freudian Projection

The following is a collection of definitions of projection from orthodox psychology texts. In this system the distinct mechanism of projecting own unconscious or undesirable characteristics onto an opponent is called Freudian Projection.

  • "A defense mechanism in which the individual attributes to other people impulses and traits that he himself has but cannot accept. It is especially likely to occur when the person lacks insight into his own impulses and traits."

  • "The externalisation of internal unconscious wishes, desires or emotions on to other people. So, for example, someone who feels subconsciously that they have a powerful latent homosexual drive may not acknowledge this consciously, but it may show in their readiness to suspect others of being homosexual."

  • "Attributing one's own undesirable traits to other people or agencies, e.g., an aggressive man accuses other people of being hostile."

  • "The individual perceives in others the motive he denies having himself. Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest. The would-be adulterer accuses his wife of infidelity."

  • "People attribute their own undesirable traits onto others. An individual who unconsciously recognises his or her aggressive tendencies may then see other people acting in an excessively aggressive way."

  • "Projection is the opposite defence mechanism to identification. We project our own unpleasant feelings onto someone else and blame them for having thoughts that we really have."

2b. (General) Projection

Here projection is assuming that others act or perceive similarly – according to this definition it is not necessary for a projected trait to be undesirable or unconscious. Projection is probably inherent in social animals and the single most important psychological mechanism. The following are given as examples:

  1. Individual A assumes that B sees the colour red as he does, until informed that B is colour-blind;

  2. Someone who never lies is easy to deceive because he projects his truthfulness onto others, assuming that others are honest also;

  3. ‘It takes one to know one’;

  4. An inept con-man fears that others are trying to cheat him, signals his fear and alerts others;

  5. (Freudian) An individual who possesses malicious characteristics, but who is unwilling to perceive himself as a protagonist, convinces himself that his opponent feels and would act the same way.

Each of these examples involves an assumption that others exhibit an own trait, but various "defence mechanisms" exist. Counter-strategies for Case 2 include (a) being conscious of a tendency to project and compensating with increased scepticism, testing scientifically, and (b) lying as much as everyone else. Case 3 could occur if an individual is honest about his own characteristics and inhibits his tendency to project, in which case he may accurately recognize his own traits in another without error. Case 4 is an interesting scenario left open for discussion.

In Case 5, offensive acts may occur when the projector (which may be an individual or a group), erroneously believing that their adversary is about to do likewise, pre-empts the opponent – making the player of this so-called defence mechanism into an aggressive protagonist. This illustrates just one of several problems with the orthodox notion of projection. I hope to have demonstrated that the conventional definition of projection, here dubbed Freudian Projection, merely describes a specific instance of a more general, and important, human mechanism. Projection, combined with features such as denial of latent desires, accounts for a great deal of human behaviour and attitudes.



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