Introjection was a term made famous by Sigmund Freud which he used to describe how an individual may adopt the desirable traits of another as a defense mechanism. In the case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the attributes are an illusion for appearance sake. A Narcissist will use this technique to ensnare a companion who they will subsequently trap into a cycle of abuse.
The Narcissist will be drawn to potential mates by their tolerance and moral character, and will mimic that behavior to lure their target, portraying a kindred soul and like-minded generosity of spirit. Once entrenched into a relationship that is difficult to end because of finances, the birth of children, or the threat of physical violence, the Narcissist is free to show their true inner self. The facade of a moral caring family member is maintained for outsiders, while behind closed doors, the nightmare begins.
This curtain of respectability is so much a part of the Narcissist's self-image, that they are able to convince themselves and all casual acquaintances of its veracity. The successful process of introjection builds a wall against the outside world, not allowing the truth to be seen. The wasteland inside those walls is populated with confusion, guilt, and a myriad of conflicting emotions that the Narcissist will use to hold sway. A Narcissist will lie intentionally and feel no remorse because, in their mind, their every action is justified. Their entire focus is to convince everyone around them of their superiority in every aspect of life.
When the inevitable conflicts occur, it is inconceivable to the Narcissist that any fault could be attributed to them. In order to transfer the responsibility for outrageous and damaging acts, they will indulge in the practice of Projection. Projection is a term meant to describe the transference of culpability from the guilty to the innocent. Anyone who has ever had to live with a Narcissist will recognize this tactic instantly. However, if a person hasn't been a victim of Projection, they may never fully understand the anguish it causes.
Projection invariably occurs whenever a crisis point is reached. Since it is impossible for the Narcissist to admit thoughtlessness or error, it must have been someone else who was at fault. It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of confusion that the victim of Narcissistic abuse feels when they not only have to endure the abuse, but be accused of being the abuser as well. It is like falling down the rabbit hole, where up is down and right is wrong. The abused question themselves because of the very strength of their character, which drew the attention of the Narcissist in the beginning of the relationship.
There are many examples of this type of behavior in the Narcissistic relationship, but none so egregious as the treatment of the battered wife, who is constantly told that the reason for her punishment is some imagined transgression. The batterer could not possibly take responsibility for his anger, because that would be admitting error. Any apology offered is insincere, and merely a means to keep the battered wife within striking distance.
Other examples may be harder to recognize, especially if they don't involve violence. Was an unkind word spoken? If it was, then the victim was the one who uttered it. Did someone act irresponsibly in any number of areas, such as finances, sex, or relationships with extended family? If so, then it must have been the innocent party who was responsible, because the Narcissist is incapable of doing anything wrong. This can be proven through their prior solidification of admirable character through the practice of introjection.
Projection's most damaging effect is the hardening of the previously open and giving person who is victimized by the Narcissist. There is no respite for the abused other than distance from the abuser. It is vital for the victim to recognize the use of Introjection and Projection by the Narcissist as their means to attain personal glorification.
The ultimate mission of the Narcissist is to be adored, as a God, worshipped for the grand gift of their presence in the world. The Narcissist can not be changed, primarily because they enjoy being the way that they are. They revel in the power they are able to exert with their methods of physical and psychological torture. They will scoff at psychiatric counseling, because it will invariably point to their culpability and damaging behavior. However, they will cling to any diagnosis other than Narcissism which makes them the victim, rather than the villain.
The best advice for someone who is suffering through a relationship with a Narcissist is to break it off. If children are involved, they should be isolated from the source of the conflict. Narcissism can invade the lives of the impressionable and claim them as its own. Since a Narcissist cares only for themselves, protestations over the welfare of shared children is pretence, and merely a subterfuge for their true intent to be the beloved center of attention.
The casualties of Narcissistic abuse most often find themselves isolated at the end of the relationship, perhaps unaware that there are others who have suffered the same fate. It can be comforting to know that one is not alone at such times, and that there are names for the techniques employed by the Narcissist. Introjection and Projection are powerful tools against unsuspecting victims, and may seem less real, and thus less important if left unidentified. Naming these tactics can help to negate their power, and expose them as a charlatan's trick.