By and large our species has behaved as though “survival of the fittest” was a central tenet of its worldview. Emphasizing competition over cooperation has led to a history of predatory behaviors among homo-sapiens. With our current (2019) “bully-in-chief” in the Oval Office, America continues its historic role as both a foreign and domestic “predator nation.” This behavior began early in our history.
Grateful for a successful voyage,
the Pilgrims fell upon their knees,
then they fell upon the aborigines.
Most of us can see that fear provides the energy for a violent predator, whether that predator is an individual or a nation. A tragedy is then created when that violent energy is projected onto the other. Unfortunately, what we are belatedly beginning to realize, is that the other can be anyone, any collective or any individual including members of a predator’s family. In America, the predator nation, anyone can become the target of a predator.
“While a possible motive for the gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso has emerged—he posted a racist manifesto online saying the attack was in response to a ‘Hispanic invasion of Texas’—the authorities in Dayton are still trying to determine what drove Connor Betts, 24, to murder nine people including his sister.” (1)
In the preceding two examples, both an individual (his sister) and a larger group (Hispanics) were the other and the object of the predators’ fear and their resultant anger and violence. An alarming reality in the United States today is that one-half of the American population has reason to fear the other half. “The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, complex or unknown. But one common thread that connects many of them—other than access to powerful firearms—is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members or sharing misogynistic views online, researchers say.” (1)
We will never begin to solve the problem of predation in America without a deeper understanding of its components which are fear, repression, the shadow and projection. Our shadow is composed of all of the repressed beliefs, attitudes and values which our culture did not accept. In a competitive culture we have a lot of opportunity for self-rejection and therefore many of us have a very dark, angry shadow which we are not conscious of. Repression or self-rejection leads to psychopathology.
Scapegoating or projection is a failure to take responsibility for our own shadow. “We see the shadow most indirectly in distasteful traits and actions of other people, out there where it is safer to observe it. We project by attributing this quality to the other person in an unconscious effort to banish it from ourselves, to keep ourselves from seeing it within.” (2)
Join us in our search to identify and understand America’s predators by clicking on the link below.
Insight # 128: The realization that you are projecting is the most important aspect of awareness. (3)
- “Projection,” in this blog and also in print version, The ABC’s of Simple Reality: The Encyclopedia of Self-Transformation, Vol II (2018), by Roy Charles Henry, page 117.
We continue with Freud’s definitions which form the basis for psychoanalysis and our basic understanding of human behavior. “The essential feature of projection is that the subject of the feeling, which is the person himself, is changed. It may take the form of exchanging the subject for the object. ‘I hate you’ is converted into ‘You hate me.’ Or it may take the form of substituting one subject for another subject while the object remains the same. ‘I am punishing myself’ is changed into ‘He is punishing me.’ What the ego is actually trying to do when it employs projection is to transform neurotic or moral anxiety into objective anxiety. A person who is afraid of his own aggressive and sexual impulses obtains some relief for his anxiety by attributing aggressiveness and sexuality to other people. Likewise, a person who is afraid of his own conscience consoles himself with the thought that other people are responsible for bothering him, and that it is not his conscience [superego].” (4)
- Bosman, Julie, et. al. “Common Red Flag in Gunmen Is Avowed Anger Toward Women.” The New York Times Book Review. August 11, 2019, pages 1, 18.
- Zweig, Connie and Jeremiah Abrams. Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1991, page xvii.
- Ruskan, John. Emotional Clearing. New York: Broadway Books, 2000, page 110.
- Hall, Calvin S. A Primer of Freudian Psychology. New York: New American Library, 1954, page 89.