Introjection: what it is, features and examples

An introjection is a term that has been used in the field of psychology and psychiatry, but especially in the mainstream of psychoanalysis, being described as the adoption from each person’s unconscious of attitudes or ideas of ‘other people.

In everyday life, we can see various examples of introjection in psychology such as “men don’t cry”, “you have to find your half of an orange to be happy”, introject in you the passion of a sport that before did not interest you but someone to those who admire the productive and also pejorative sentences that other people have often said to others like “you are a pathetic”.

In this article, in addition to presenting some examples of introjection in psychology, we will see how this phenomenon develops; although we will first explain what this concept consists of, as well as the projection at the time when the two concepts are closely related.

    What are projection and introjection?

    First of all, it is necessary to understand what projection and introjection are, two widely used concepts, especially within the current of psychoanalysis.

    First, a projection, in traditional psychology, has been defined as a mechanism by which a person is able to free themselves from certain emotionally intolerable situations by placing their own feelings outside. Another way to define a projection would be as a judgment of exteriority whereby a sensation of the body itself is attributed to a phenomenon that occurs outside. In some psychopathologies (for example, in schizophrenia), this type of projection is common.

    An introjection is the opposite term for projection., being a concept originally introduced into the mainstream of psychoanalysis by Sándor Ferenczi and in turn adapted by Sigmund Freud. It was defined by the latter as a psychological mechanism that intervenes in the formation of the personality of people by influencing the reorganization of the ego and the construction of the superego.

    Introjection is also considered an unconscious mechanism used to help internalize most of the qualities, ideas and attitudes of others, and it is a fairly common process in people’s lives. Therefore, introjection is basically based on the assumption of beliefs or external behaviors, but in this case without understanding the reason for which one made this adoption. Moreover, introjection is considered an unconscious defense mechanism that could lead to ignorance of the reality around you.

    Ultimately, introjection could be seen as the mechanism by which we humans tend to place things within ourselves that belong to others. This phenomenon usually occurs more often in those who are more likely to feel guilty and take responsibility for things because they are very demanding of themselves.

      Examples of introjection in psychology

      There are a wide variety of examples of introjection in psychology that can be seen in people’s daily lives, practiced unconsciously and constantly by people. Let’s look at some of these introjection examples below.

      The first example of introjection in psychology is one that occurs quite frequently and occurs when a person discovers that someone they admire is very fond of swimming and then, although this person had never been interested in the sport before, he started to practice itthis being an introjection.

      In this type of case, it may even happen that the person who introjected the other person who admires this taste for swimming puts his opinion above his own feelings concerning this new taste for this sport, so that he will automatically and even unconsciously assume that since someone she admired introduced the idea of ​​playing the sport, she must have been right. In this case you will have found an argument to combat any cognitive dissonance that may arise in your mind regarding the establishment of this new hobby.

      The second of the examples of introjection is quite common in cases where a father instills in his children the idea that “children and men never cry”.. This premise said by the father encourages the child to make it his own, so that he ends up assimilating it to an introjection and thus becomes part of his attitudes and his reality.

      Another example of introjection, also quite common, is that which occurs when a person has grown up in a family environment where it is very common to hear from parents and even other relatives the following statement: ” You should never trust anyone.” Then there will be an introjection in the person that will cost them more than normal to develop certain social skills and throughout his life he will also have difficulty establishing trusting and perhaps even sentimental interpersonal relationships.

      The fourth of the examples of introjection that we are going to see is another which, unfortunately, has also been seen quite frequently, and it is that which occurs when a person evolves in an environment, both family, social and cultural, in which the people around you, especially adults, repeatedly say to you: “When you grow up, you will have to look for your half-orange to be happy.”

      In these cases, it is common that the person who grew up listening to this statement ends up assimilating it, and this introjection will make him believe that it is an irrefutable truth, so that will live with the need to find “your ideal partner” by all means and it could cause him a strong need to find a partner. And when you find it, it will be easy for you to develop a strong addiction to such an extent that it could be very harmful to both of you.

      That’s not to say that having a partner isn’t one of the main sources of happiness; Because building healthy and lasting interpersonal relationships (with family, partners, and friends) is respectful, caring, and mutually beneficial, it is extremely important for people’s mental health and overall well-being. But it is true that when you create a strong dependency and a great need to have a partner, without knowing how to be good with yourself, it can do more harm than good.

      There is a wide range of examples of introjection in psychology such as the ones we will list below:

      • “You can not do that.”

      • “You are a loser.”

      • “You are pathetic.”

      • “You are worthless.”

      • “You should always be polite to others.”

      • “You must always be strong, without exposing your weaknesses.”

      • “It is inappropriate to show your feelings to other people.”

      • “You should always show your gratitude.”

      • “You always have to forgive.”

      • “A couple must be for life.”

      • “When you grow up, you should get married and have children.”

      • “Without pain there is no gain”, etc.

      • Related article: “What is social psychology?”

      How can we identify our own introjects?

      After having seen several examples of introjection in psychology we will see a simple exercise that we could put into practice to try to identify our own introjects.

      The first step in this exercise would be make a list in which we write down all those ideas, norms and beliefs that we believe have come to us from outside; moreover, we can add those attitudes that we see that are quite prevalent in our culture and that we have been able to introject (for example, cultural introjects).

      Once the list is established, it is necessary think about the origin of each of these examples of introjection that we have written and if possible which people transmitted this idea, attitude or standard, etc. to us. (for example, our parents, our teachers, our siblings, the society in which we live, etc.).

      Finally, we must make the mental effort to analyze what we really think of these attitudes, norms or ideas that we have listed and how well they match our way of understanding life. We must also ask ourselves if these examples of introjection that we have noted favor us or if, on the contrary, they really harm us, then we must make an effort to get rid of them and keep assimilated those which correspond to our way of understanding the things and who they also benefit us in some way.

      Bibliographic references

      • Abraham, N. (2005). The crime of introjection. In N. Abraham & M. Torok (ed.). The bark and the core (pp. 115-122). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu.
      • Casullo, A. (2019). Introjection and/or incorporation Exploration of narcissistic links between generations. Journal of the Argentine Society of Psychoanalysis, 23.
      • Doron, R. (1998). Akal Psychology Dictionary. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
      • Etxabé, AM (2016). The silent threads: working with introjection. Journal of Psychotherapy, 27 (105), p. 59-74.
      • Ferenczi, S. (1949). Introjection and transference. Journal of Psychoanalysis, 6 (3-4), 701-742.
      • OnlineSánchez, T. (2014). What is psychosomatics: from the silence of emotions to illness. Madrid: New Library.
      • Tizon, JL (2019). Notes for a Relational Psychopathology: Psychopathological Variations (Vol. 2 Dramatized, Fearful, and Rationalized Relationships). Barcelona: Editorial Herder.
      • Tizon, JL (2019). Notes for a relational psychopathology: Psychopathological variations (Vol. 3 Rationalized, intrusive actuarial and “operative” relations). Barcelona: Editorial Herder.

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