In Freudian psychology, PROJECTION is a defense mechanism in which undesirable thoughts are attributed to an external source, usually another person. For example, you dimly realize that your are often loud and obnoxious, but you don’t want to admit it to yourself, so you accuse other people of being loud and obnoxious. This type of projection can have two ego-stroking effects: (1) Social dilution – “I have lots of company, so I’m not so bad” ; (2) Comparative easing – “Compared to Donald Trump, I’m not that obnoxious.”
PROJECTION is even more effective when aimed at a supernatural external object. In this way, Satan becomes the immortal personification of all evil. Satan is far worse than anything you could ever be. His crimes are certainly more horrendous than any blasphemous horror you could concoct. As Mick Jagger informed us, He “rode a tank, held a General’s rank when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank.” This ultimate type of Projected Blame Shifting is summed up nicely in Flip Wilson’s signature line – “the devil made me do it.”
THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT.
There is a powerful inverse relationship between blaming the devil and assuming blame ourselves. If the Devil is 100% to blame, you are off the hook entirely. You murdered that family because you were completely possessed by Satan. If the Devil is only, say, 30% to blame, then you may can plea bargain down to “reckless endangerment.” I don’t see how you can believe in the Devil and Free Will at the same time. And it seems obvious ( to me) that Satan is a very convenient and very unfortunate psychological projection.
Following this line of thought, God and Jesus and all other “good” supernatural beings are also projections of our more positive aspects. There is actually a New Age philosophy called “Self-Projection as God” which describes this phenomenon as “vicarious autotheism.” In this case, we aren’t shifting blame, we are shifting credit. Apparently it’s too much to believe that the human mind alone could be capable of self-healing and other psychological “miracles.”