The science of projection is the study of how our minds project onto the world around us.
The concept dates back to Plato and was first proposed by Alfred North Whitehead.
It is a theory that suggests we’re not in control of our perception of the world, but instead that it’s all made up of images we’re seeing through.
In other words, our minds are all built on images.
While the idea of projection has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy, the current state of neuroscience makes it sound more modern than that.
A new study, published in Psychological Science, finds that the perception of our own self as a projection is far more accurate than previously thought.
“Our results suggest that the brain may actually be aware of the perceived self as an illusion, and therefore can respond to its own perceived self,” lead author Dr. Richard J. Kossman told PhysOrg.com.
“So our results suggest a fundamental change in our perception as a result of a perceptual shift.”
Kossmann and his colleagues conducted a study with over 1,200 subjects who took part in a clinical depression study.
The participants were asked to take a test that gauged their levels of depression.
Participants who were tested as projection participants rated themselves as having more depressive symptoms.
The study also included an anonymous survey of the subjects.
The researchers found that participants who had been projected as projection users were more likely to report that they felt depressed compared to participants who were not projected as projections.
In addition, the subjects who were projected as projected also reported more anxiety and distress.
“We found that this projection of self-worth, rather than being a self-fulfilling prophecy, is actually an indicator of depression in the future,” said Kossmans.
The authors of the study said their findings suggest that we may be able to use psychological tools to help people overcome their depression, but the results don’t necessarily mean that we can’t also help ourselves.
“One way to prevent depression is to recognize that depression is a mental illness, and that a lot of depression is actually the result of an underlying disorder that’s very hard to change,” Kossmen told Physorg.com, “but there are treatments that are effective for some of the underlying disorders that affect depression, and one of those is cognitive behavioral therapy.”
The researchers suggest that if you’re feeling depressed, it’s important to focus on improving your life skills and coping with the anxiety and depression.
You can check out more information about projection and depression at The Next World.
Image credit: Flickr/Dennis van de Velde