Introjection is the opposite of projection and is what we tend to do to ourselves, a reflexive ego response. Paranoia would be an extreme negative example.
I have two personal illustrations: The first, before I grasped what Jung meant and the second years later. According to a conversation I once had with Ed Edinger, all conscious response to life involves pro- or introjection. This fits the astrological chart as I describe it: a chart provides a description of the unique way a person processes experience.
Again, a classic example involves my son, Timothy, who is now sixty years old, a psychiatrist married for twenty-five years to his Stanford classmate Meg Little, a child psychiatrist. They are themselves parents of four grown children.
Timothy was on this occasion, thirteen, and in his first year at the Hill School. He had come home on a December weekend with his roommate, Jim, who had left earlier as he was performing with classmates in a choir recital at St Thomas Cathedral in NYC. I was taking Timothy and his three sisters later on the train to attend the recital. The train stopped at various stations along the way, and some other Hill boys boarded. Timothy got up and sauntered down to hang out with them. When we got to NYC Timothy got off with the boys and we followed behind. Without turning around, Timothy waved a hand behind his back and took off with the other boys, not even saying good-bye, let alone introducing us. I was crushed to think that he was that ashamed of us. I sat through the concert holding back tears and indeed Timothy left to go back to school on the bus without a word. I was truly hurt.
Weeks later, when he came home for Christmas, I finally brought it up. Why? The answer sheepishly given was, “I didn’t want the guys to think I wasn’t old enough to travel by myself and think my mother had to keep an eye on me!”
Twenty years later, almost to the day, I married my beloved Walter Andersen and moved from Long Island to join him in La Habra, California. He had bought a new house, and when I arrived I almost immediately began teaching an evening a week at the C. G. Jung Institute in Los Angeles.
Walter was a widower and had been married thirty-six years to a beautiful woman who had died of cancer ten years previously. So when I arrived, we discovered that we had duplicates of many items: pots, pans, dishes etc. Every night I came home from teaching, I noted that Walter only used her pots, pans, and dishes. My assumption was that this gave him the occasion to remember and mourn her, and I reasoned that she must have been young and more beautiful than I. I struggled against my negative reactions. However! this time I was aware, thanks to Jung and my analysis with Whitmont, that all I needed to do was ask the question "How come?’"
“Oh, my dear,” my husband replied, “I am so clumsy and your things are so pretty, I was afraid of scalding a pot or breaking anything!” So NOW I really understood the concept of introjection!
It is imperative of all of us interested in Jung to remember this: It is never what we do, but how the other person interprets it! It is never what we say, but what the other hears that counts!
On a lighter note, I can’t resist sharing that the first day I arrived at the new house, Walter apologetically announced that the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink needed fixing. He had put three oranges down it and they had reappeared in the dishwasher! I had never seen a garbage disposal before, but I knew that this one had to be called Prokofiev after the composer who wrote “Love of Three Oranges”! So from then on we fed Prokofiev, who went graow-wow-wow in appreciation. Which we finally left to move east, we both felt sad at leaving him to strangers who would not recognize his endearing personality!
If it’s any comfort to know we were not totally nuts. I learned from a Jung biography that he himself gave names to some of his pots and pans! So there!
More on these foibles later . . .