We all have an image of how we “should be”. Freud called it the “Ego Ideal”. But sometimes we experience emotions and drives or have personal qualities which don’t sit well with this idealized construct. Projection is when we attribute to others these unacceptable, discomfiting, and ill-fitting feelings and traits that we possess. This way we disown these discordant features and secure the right to criticize and chastise others for having or displaying them. When entire collectives (nations, groups, organizations, firms) project, Freud calls it the Narcissism of Small Differences.

As the mass of free floating negative feelings grow inside, another powerful defense mechanism, projection swings into action. Projection ranges from being passive to out and out aggression. This is a process of unloading self hatred into others. The focus is on the dearest people around. Again, the alcoholic does not know what is actually happening. Outwardly alcoholics are seen attacking their dear ones but in fact, it is an expression of self hatred. At this stage they actually believe that they attacking nasty people. There is a further complicating factor. The people around alcoholics, being human, are vulnerable. They know something is terribly wrong, but fail to understand. When this load is dumped on them and they constantly receiving end of his projections they feel terribly guilty. At this stage alcoholic feels “pain” all the time and he needs to drink just to feel normal