Nuclear Family Projection Process
When parents are unable to deal with their undifferentiation and its accompanying anxiety between themselves, one (or more) of the children can be pulled into the tension in a way that, over time, compromises the normal development of a self in that child. Children can be triangled into the tension by one parent taking the child’s side over against the other parent. Children quickly begin to play their part in this process. Over time this can result in the child viewing one parent in an overly positive light and the other parent in an overly negative light. The difficulty for the child is that their own energy for development of self, to some extent, gets directed more to maintaining one’s position in the triangles than to their own natural life course.
The triangling pattern that most compromises the child’s development of self is one in which the parents ease the anxiety in themselves by denying their own underlying weakness and colluding in seeing the problem as in the child. This is an automatic projection process that includes the hard-wired survival response mechanisms for solving a perceived problem: assess, diagnose and treat (fix or solve). For example, a parent with unresolved anxiety around social situations and fear of rejection can deny this problem in self and focus anxiously on this as a problem in one’s child . The normal rejections and struggles of a young child’s social interactions are then perceived as abnormal and in need of solving by the parent. The child picks up on the anxiety in the parent and begins to respond more to the parent’s anxious focus than on their own natural strengths and abilities. Over time the perceived problem in the head and feelings of the parent becomes a real problem in the development of a self in the child. The second parent intensifies the process by actively or passively going along with this view.