Splitting does not apply only to young children.
Indeed, it occurs throughout all of life.
For instance, we regularly split the world into “good guys” and “bad guys,” “friends” versus “foes.” As a result, from time to time, our projections get seriously out of hand as when, for example, one views all Muslims and immigrants as inherently dangerous, and far worse, as evil. For another, we constantly project our unconscious dreams, hopes, fears, and fantasies onto our leaders.
To live up to the projections of o
thers is one of the most difficult demands of being a leader.
Stronger still, projections are highly contagious.
To be a mem
ber of a group is to share its mutual projections, positive and negative.
This more than anything else helps to explain the phenomenon of the Tea Party, which goes far beyond mere opposition to President Obama and his policies. The Tea Party’s vicious attacks on Obama — including their allegations that he is a “socialist” (one of the worst imaginable identities for many on the Right), that he “somehow hates white people,” and that he is comparable to Hitler – reflects the Tea Party’s projections. Groups accentuate the best and
the worst of our impulses.