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The projection: when we criticize others, we talk about ourselves

The projection: when we criticize others, we talk about ourselves

July 18, 2024

Criticizing others is a widely spread "sport" between many people. We talk about how others dress, how they think, how they behave, how they direct their lives ...

But ... what is behind a criticism? What mechanisms make many people unable to repress the impulse to judge others? The Gestalt humanistic psychology promoted by Fritz Perls in the 40s explains this phenomenon through a concept called "projection" .

  • Related article: "Gestalt therapy: what is it and on what principles is it based?"

Criticism of others and neurotic mechanisms

As a humanistic therapy, Gestalt is characterized by pursue personal fulfillment to develop human potential to the maximum. One of its pillars is the self-knowledge to recognize the relationship between the bodily sensations that provoke our emotions and link them with our needs to learn to satisfy them.


When the person she does not know how to give herself what she really needs is when they appear according to the Gestalt neurotic mechanisms, which are all those disturbances both at the level of thought and behavior that arise because of the inability of the individual to do what he really wants to try to adapt and be accepted by their social environment. Projection is one of these mechanisms and is the basis of criticism of others.

  • Related article: "Humanist Psychology: history, theory and basic principles"

What happens during the screening?

The one who projects, rejects some aspects of himself and awards them to others . What one person criticizes another always has to do with the one who judges; It may be something that you would like to do but that is not allowed, or something of your own personality that you dislike.


For example, if someone rejects their extreme anger from another person, it is possible that this anger does not recognize it as theirs, because they do not want it or can express it, or because they do not like their own uncontrolled anger. When criticizing, sometimes you will be right, but most of the time will be passing your opinion by the filter of the experience itself and will make serious mistakes judging others. In addition, he will feel powerless to change the situation, since guilt will always be external.

Therefore, the fact of projecting or criticizing is the attribution to something or someone of the qualities or feelings that we are not prepared to recognize as ours.

The role of dreams according to the Gestalt

Another curious fact about the Gestalt paradigm is that according to this dreams are also projections . That is to say, what we dream is that part that we do not integrate or that we do not have resolved about ourselves, so that dreams can give us many clues about what we are, what worries us or what we need to solve at all times.


This perspective on the dream world tells us that behind much of the criticism of others there are very deep psychological mechanisms that affect us even when our mind has "disconnected" from the immediate environment of the present.

Closing the cycle of our needs

Therefore, when we criticize others we are really talking about ourselves and this instead of becoming something negative and looked at from this new point of view, we can help us to be more understanding and empathetic with what other people say or think.

On the other hand, can guide our steps, because instead of staying in the criticism and always see the guilt of what happens in the others, you can indicate the steps we have to take not to go by ways and decisions that we do not correspond and be consistent with what we feel.

Gestalt Therapy helps us identify these neurotic mechanisms that prevent us from closing the cycle of our needs and be aware of where we cut our desires, in order to decide if we want to act the same and continue criticizing, or if we want to dare to be ourselves and not have the need to do so. One of the important objectives within Gestalt therapy is precisely to assimilate these projections, that is, to accept as rejected part of our experience.

So when we feel the unstoppable temptation to judge others, it is more useful to stop to feel what happens to us inside and know how to take advantage of what our emotions and feelings tell us.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Neurosis (neuroticism): causes, symptoms and characteristics"

STOP JUDGING YOURSELF and OTHERS-Are You Super Critical (July 2024).


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