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Collective (Shadow?) Projection: What Is It?

Collective projection

Following on from our previous article, Shadow Work: Questions and Answers, when we briefly touched on the phenomena of projection, we’re delving a little deeper into the topic. In particular, we’re taking a look at collective projection.

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What is Collective Projection?

Collective projection occurs in many predictable and unpredictable ways. It happens when a mood, a perception, a mode of behavior appears to spread through the population like a virus; spontaneously passing from one person to another. We might attribute some to fashion, or trends perhaps. Often the media fuels collective projection and even directs its focus. With the advent of social media, in itself the epitome of collective projection, an event, topic, or even a feeling can circulate the globe several times in a matter of hours. Therefore, the pressure of collective projection on people’s behavior is an important factor to consider when dissecting social trends.

Social media collective projection

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Unlike personal projection, where we observe and judge traits or behavior in another person that we don’t recognize in ourselves, but which are clearly in evidence, collective projection is an outlet for people to indulge themselves in behavior that would normally be foreign to them. It is as though we use the outer world as a canvas on which to project inner emotions we would usually suppress.

Collective Grief

When Diana, Princess of Wales died in a tragic accident in 1997, the resulting outpouring of grief changed the public perception of her completely. From being a royal celebrity, a fashionista, a divorcee living life slightly on the seedy side, in death – with the help of collective projection –  she reached a saint-like status. Whatever your opinion of her as a person, it was impossible not to get caught up in the wave of grief that washed over the UK, and indeed, the world.

Collective projection of grief

By Maxwell Hamilton from Greater London – Flowers for Princess Diana's Funeral, CC BY 2.0,

Since then, people in Britain have changed from their previous tendency to keep grief to themselves to feeling able to express it openly. Now whenever a prominent public figure dies, people, worldwide will make pilgrimages to the site of death or the home of the deceased to pay homage, light candles and lay bouquets. Over a million bouquets were collected from outside the royal palaces after Diana’s death.

Collective War

Being able to express emotions like grief openly may be a positive result of collective projection; however, collective anger and hatred is something else. Politicians are adept at whipping up collective antagonism toward another country if they have an agenda to start a war. It is simply done by depicting the ‘other side’ as the bogeyman, the bad guys, and then roping the media in. These days, it doesn’t take very long to get the masses onside. From there, it is just one step to engage in air-strikes and full out war.

Antagonistic collective projection happens when a whole nation turns its attention to another country’s ‘behavior’. Back in President Reagan’s time, it was the Russians. Already jittery because of the idea of spreading communism, America expressed her disapproval of Russia’s developing technology and nuclear arms by engaging in the Cold War. The Russians were bad. America was good. America, of course, was busily preparing her own ‘Star Wars’ nuclear program at the same time. When the Cold War finally ran out of steam, America had to look for new enemies, and luckily there were several in the wings, ready and waiting.

This is a form of shadow projection, where we look at the ‘enemy’ and see him engaging in all kinds of bad behavior, which must be punished. Unfortunately, we fail to recognize that many of these unwanted actions are being carried out by our country already.

Psychics Feel Collective Projection

During these waves of collective projection, some psychics feel the pressure enormously. As sensitives, they can be influenced by the mood of one person, let alone millions. Some psychics may find their abilities are blunted, while others discover they are heightened in quite a discomforting manner. Sensitives may experience frequent headaches as well as new clairvoyant, clairaudient and other extra-sensory occurrences.

Healers, in particular, can feel uneasy and even physically ill when they are subjected to the influences of some mass hysteria or other kinds of collective projection.

The Wisdom of the Collective

There is something known as ‘crowd wisdom’. It’s difficult to explain, but one simple example is given by the Victorian statistician, Francis Galton. He collected the guesses of a crowd of people at a country fair who were competing for a prize. They had to guess the weight of an ox. When he took the average of the predictions of the whole gathering, it was spot on.

The writer, James Surowiecki, in his book, "The Wisdom of Crowds", surmises that better, more efficient decisions can be made by aggregating the opinions of many, rather than relying on fewer people, or individuals.

Using Collective Projection for Good

There are many examples of when collective projection has been used for good. Natural disasters bring out the best in people, both on the spot and worldwide. By observing selfless behavior in others, people come together to do what they can to alleviate suffering. And, thanks to the speed with which news can travel, this compassionate, practical reaction can begin immediately.

People pressure expressed as enthusiasm or displeasure can influence policy in all kinds of ways from local grassroots movements right up to governmental level.

Between June 7 and July 30, 1993, a mass group Transcendental Meditation (TM) was devised and carried out in Washington DC. It began with 800 participants and increased to 4,000 over the weeks. The crime rate decreased by 23%. The World Peace Group believe that it is possible that by projecting certain levels of brain waves, in this case, those produced during TM can enter, affect and influence the collective unconscious of the population with beneficial effects.

Collective projection

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Compfight cc

More recently, we have witnessed homosexuality transform from a negatively viewed subset of society into something to be celebrated and integrated. The influence of collective projection in action.

So if you ever find yourself caught up in a web of collective projection, take a step back and ask yourself if you are responding to, and with, a negative influence or participating in something good. Similarly, if you are psychic or sensitive and are feeling unexplainably under the weather, see what is happening around the world – you may be experiencing the effect of a collective projection.

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