Projection Is A Psychological Defense Mechanism
It involves painting one’s own thoughts, views, feelings, and characteristics to someone else instead of seeing what is actually there!
With romance or other forms of relationship scams (including pig butchering scams) and their aftermath, psychological projection can play a significant role both during and after the scam.
Insights Into Victim Projection
During the Scam:
Scammers often use manipulation tactics to create a false persona that appeals to the victim’s desires and needs. Victims might project their own positive qualities, hopes, and expectations onto the scammer. They may perceive the scammer as the embodiment of their ideal partner, overlooking initial red flags or inconsistencies due to the projection of their own desires onto the scammer’s persona. Thus the victim’s own projection becomes an asset in the scammer’s grooming toolbox.
After the Scam:
Once the scam is revealed, victims might experience a range of emotions, including embarrassment, shame, anger, and self-blame. Psychological projection can come into play as victims struggle to accept their own vulnerability and mistakes. Instead of fully acknowledging their own emotions and actions, they might project their negative feelings onto others, including the scammer, law enforcement, or even themselves. For example, a victim might find it easier to believe that the scammer was truly in love with them but forced into the scam due to external circumstances, rather than accepting that they were manipulated. This projection allows the victim to preserve a more favorable image of the scammer, which can complicate the healing process. Additionally, victims might project their self-blame onto themselves, feeling that they should have seen the signs or should have been more cautious – of course, this is hindsight bias. This self-blame can hinder their emotional recovery and self-esteem.
Projection During Recovery
Psychological projection can affect scam victims during their emotional recovery in several ways too:
- Denial of Reality: Projecting positive qualities onto the scammer or blaming external factors can prevent victims from fully accepting the reality of the scam. This denial can prolong or bypass the healing process and hinder their ability to learn from the experience and recover successfully.
- Impaired Trust: Projection can lead to misplaced trust and skepticism. Victims might struggle to trust genuine people and relationships, fearing that they will again project their desires onto someone who doesn’t have their best interests at heart – assuming they are even aware that they are projecting. This is yet another reason why abstinence is important after the scam ends.
- Interpersonal Challenges: Victims who project their negative feelings onto others might find it difficult to form new healthy relationships or seek support from friends and family. They may view others who are simply having a hard time understanding the nuances of the criminal’s manipulation as being judgmental and hostile.
- Stifled Healing: Projection can interfere with the necessary self-reflection and processing of emotions (especially grief) that is crucial for healing. It can prevent victims from taking responsibility for their own emotions and decisions, causing them to ignore the need for professional help!.
Recovering from a romance scam involves coming to terms with one’s own vulnerability, learning from the experience, and rebuilding emotional well-being.
To do this effectively, victims should strive to recognize and address any tendencies toward projection, seek professional support if needed, and engage in a process of self-compassion and self-forgiveness. This can help them move forward with a clearer understanding of their emotions and a healthier perspective on relationships.
Remember, this is but one piece in the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that is learning to recover! Some of you have a sense of the picture it presents, but newer victims are still looking for the corners! Have patience, you will find the pieces if you continue to follow the recovery path!