The Role of Narcissistic Projection in Self-Doubt and Relationship Drama

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Someone with narcissistic personality disorder, or a significant amount of narcissistic traits, doesn’t see you for who you are. In fact, they don’t see you at all. For practical purposes, you’re more like a projection screen. Yet, since this is -for many of us- such a foreign concept to wrap our heads around, we tend to simply assume that, when someone likes us, they like who we really are and, hence, can see who we really […]

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1 Andy February 12, 2014

Wow, this is really interesting! And very applicable when I think back to certain people. It doesn’t take long before you experience the true nature of a narcissist. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – we can get confused thinking we want to feel special, but actually the biggest complement you can get in a relationship is ‘you are normal. You are the norm of you, that’s all I want, and I like it.’

2 Andreas February 12, 2014

Great article. Love reading your stuff.

3 Jane February 14, 2014

I think we have to be honest and realize there’s some narcissism in ME, or I wouldn’t fall for that beautiful image of myself that I imagine I see in the other person’s eyes. And I am projecting too, if I can’t see the other person as the mixed-up struggling human they are, but give them some kind of authority to determine my value. Or turn around and create this opposite persona called ‘narcissist’ to whom I assign the power to create this sense of dissatisfaction I feel about myself.

It’s very easy to stray from the real issue, which is learning to see, objectively, that I (my beliefs, thoughts, psychological issues) create my inner reality, it isn’t caused by anyone else.

4 Caroline van Kimmenade February 15, 2014

True, yet it’s also important not to blame ourself for the ways in which we perhaps do feel that others have the authority to determine our value. While that is projection, these kinds of projections tend to have very deep (often childhood) roots & intense wounding that cannot be undone easily or quickly.

To come back to a place of objectivity requires a willingness to experience all aspects of the situation and not deny, minimalize or distract from them. Often, a passionate, and very subjective experiencing of our circumstances, is the first step and the only way to get back in touch with our inner conditioning around a particular issue. Our anger about a situation can point us to an awareness that something is out of alignment. At that point we have a choice as to whether we look for our own power in the situation, or lay it at the other person’s feet. But we need to be in touch with our hurt first, to know that there is something to look into at all.

When we start with acknowledging how we are hurt, then we can move on to find ways to change the situation/remove ourself from the situation. From there, we can look inside for ways in which we enabled the old situation. Yet if we start by looking at how we may have enabled something, without acknowlediging the legitimacy of our own hurt, then we can easily end up staying stuck instead of moving forward. My experience in talking to people about this topic is that it’s often super easy for HSP’s to see others for the mixed-up struggling humans they are. Seeing the narcissist as an “other” is often an important step to take, not as a final conclusion about the situation, but as a way to move from self-blame to self-acknowledgement and healing.

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