Projection and Transference, Different but Still the Same Phenomena
What is the difference between projection and transference? Projection and transference are the same phenomena which is seeing in others outside of ourselves our own unconscious contents. We transfer or project whatever we disown, deny or repress — only this is occurring not of our own volition. The psyche is striving for wholeness so therefore our unconscious projects itself out onto others because it wants to be known. In our relationships, these are three of the ways projections occur. 1) I project something onto you and expect you to carry it for me. 2) I project something onto you. You do it. I do not. I can’t see it in myself. and 3) I inflict my shadow onto you and do not even know I am doing it. I remain completely unaware.
In transference, I transfer my history onto you. I have had a challenging relationship with my parents/environment so now I transfer that history onto you as unconsciously I am still trying to resolve it. So you get to be my Mom and my Dad. That’s why the 2nd chapter of my book is Our Parents, Our Partners and Our 7th House. We marry our parents. Sometimes first one, then the other. Sometimes both at once because what was conscious in one will be unconscious in the other. They were more alike than we thought when we understand this psychological dynamic also called projective identification.
Around mid life we begin to recognize these patterns. We repeat our relationships ad nauseam until we see that we are the common denominator in all of these situations with others. These occur in a spiral— we go round and round with them as we become more and more conscious of our “selves.” Jung called this circumambulation of the Ego around the Self. As we withdraw our projections which takes immense moral courage and an attitude of honest self reflection, only then can we do something about it. This is rather painful and humiliating to realize what we thought was all about you was also about us. As Jung put it, “the experience of the Self is always a defeat for the ego.” Now our goal becomes how do I integrate this missing part of myself that has likely remained primitive and undeveloped? How do I withdraw my projections/tranferences so that you are now unburdened by my own unconscious? This is why I say to be in a real relationship, we have to communicate authentically and honestly. Sharing power which is becoming truly vulnerable is always a gift for both people to give each other. It is a real blessing when you find someone who is willing to do this kind of "inner work."