Psychological Projection

A psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defence mechanism where a person unconsciously denies their own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, such as to the weather, a tool, or to other people. Thus, it involves imagining or projecting that others have those feelings. It is known as one of the six main self-defence mechanisms.

Sigmund Freud

Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

An example of this behaviour might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and redirect their libidinal satisfaction by attaching, or projecting, those same faults onto another.

According to Sigmund Freud, projection is a psychological defence mechanism whereby one projects one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings onto someone else. ‘Emotions or excitations which the ego tries to ward off are spit out and then felt as being outside the ego […] perceived in another person’. It is a common process that every person uses to some degree. (The related defence of) ‘projective identification differs from projection in that the impulse projected onto an external object does not appear as something alien and distant from the ego because the connection of the self with that projected impulse continues’.

To understand the process, consider a person in a couple who has thoughts of infidelity. Instead of dealing with these undesirable thoughts consciously, they unconsciously project these feelings onto the other person, and begin to think that the other has thoughts of infidelity and may be having an affair. Thus one can obtain ‘acquittal by his conscience – if he projects his own impulses to faithlessness on to the partner to whom he owes faith’. In this sense, projection is related to denial, arguably the only defence mechanism that is more primitive than projection. Projection, like all defence mechanisms, provides a function whereby a person can protect their conscious mind from a feeling that is otherwise repulsive.

Projection can also be established as a means of obtaining or justifying certain actions that would normally be found atrocious or heinous. This often means projecting false accusations, information, etcetera, onto an individual for the sole purpose of maintaining a self-created illusion. One of the many problems with the process whereby ‘something dangerous that is felt inside can be moved outside – a process of projection’ – is that as a result ‘the projector may become somewhat depleted and rendered limp in character, as he loses part of his personality’.


Transference is a phenomenon in Freudian psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. It is known as one of the six main self-defence mechanisms.

Possible definitions include:

– The inappropriate repetition in the present of a relationship that was important in a person’s childhood.

– The redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.

– A reproduction of emotions relating to repressed experiences, especially of childhood, and the substitution of another person […] for the original object of the repressed impulses.

Transference was first described by Sigmund Freud, who acknowledged its importance for psychoanalysis for better understanding of the patient’s feelings and feelings of rage.

During transference, people turn into a ‘biological time machine.’ A nerve is struck when someone says or does something that reminds them of their past. This creates an emotional time warp that transfers their emotional past and their psychological needs into the present.

A 1929 artwork depicting Sigmund Freud in a Session

It is common for people to transfer feelings from their parents to their partners or children – cross-generational entanglements. For instance, one could mistrust somebody who resembles an ex-spouse in manners, voice, or external appearance; or be overly compliant to someone who resembles a childhood friend.

Carl Jung states in his Psychology of the Transference that within the transference dyad both participants typically experience a variety of opposites, that in love and in psychological growth, the key to success is the ability to endure the tension of the opposites without abandoning the process, and that this tension allows one to grow and to transform.

Hemline Theory

In 1926 an economist called George Taylor introduced a theory that is called the hemline index. This theory says that hemlines on women’s dresses fluctuate with the economy, measured by stock prices or gross domestic product. When the economy is flourishing, hemlines increase, meaning one would see more miniskirts, and when the economic situation is deteriorating the hemlines drop, perhaps even to the floor.

Urban legend has it that the hemline is correlated with the economy. In times of decline, the hemline moves towards the floor – decreases – and when the economy is booming, skirts get shorter and the hemline increases. Monthly data has been collected on the hemline, for 1921-2009, and evaluate these against The National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER) chronology of the economic cycle. The main finding is that the urban legend holds true but with a time lag of about three years. Hence, the current economic crisis predicts ankle length shirts around 2011 and 2012.

The Erasmus School of Economics measured the hemlines of skirts appearing in French fashion magazines every month since 1921. And found that there is a link between hemlines and the state of the US economy, as measured by NBER’s chronology of recessions. But there’s a lag of three years: recessions lead to skirts to getting longer in three years’ time. By contrast, skirt lengths have no predictive ability for the state of the economy.

Of course, Taylor’s theory was based upon American hemlines, not French ones. But it is unlikely that there is a lag of three years from the former to the latter. If anything – with France having been the fashion capital of the world for many years – there’d be a lag from French hemlines to American ones, which is undermines Taylor‘s theory even more.

Based on the analysis of actual data on the hemline, which goes back to January 1921, data shows that the hemline-length fluctuates about every three years. Supporting the urban legend, it is obvious that poor economic times make the hemlines to decrease, which means that women’s dresses get lower, and that prosperity is correlated with a reduced hemline – more miniskirts. At the same time, and this is new to the available evidence, since there is a time lag of around three years. This explains why in an economic downturn, the skirts can be short, as this is simply due to the fact that the economy was in a boom.

The reverse relation has also been analysed, that is, whether the hemline had any impact on the NBER chronology, this time using a logit model. Reassuringly, no such relation has been found to exist, not a current one, nor that there are any lagged effects.

So, apparently bankers have no reason – other than those shared by some men – to like short skirts, and no reason to fear the apparent lengthening of them.

Habemus Papam

We Have a Pope is the announcement given in Latin by the senior Cardinal Deacon – the Cardinal Proto-Deacon – upon the election of a new pope.

The announcement is given from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. After the announcement, the new pope is presented to the people and he gives his first Urbi et Orbi blessing.

The format for the announcement when a cardinal is elected Pope is:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Habemus Papam!
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum [First Name],
Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem [Last Name],
Qui sibi nomen imposuit [Papal Name].

In English, it reads:

I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The most eminent and most reverend Lord,
Lord [First Name],
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church [Last Name],
Who takes to himself the name of [Papal Name].

A 15th century depiction of the calling of the Habemus Papam

In announcing the name of the newly-elected pontiff, the new pontiff’s birth forename or first name is announced in Latin in the accusative case (e.g. Angelum Iosephum, Ioannem Baptistam, Albinum, Carolum, Iosephum), but the new pontiff’s surname or family name is given in the original form (e.g. Roncalli, Montini, Luciani, Wojtyła, Ratzinger).

The new pope’s regal name is usually given in the genitive case in Latin (e.g. Ioannis vicesimi tertii, Ioannis Pauli primi etcetera), although it can also be declined in the accusative case in Latin – as was the case in 1963 when Pope Paul VI’s regal name was announced as Paulum sextum.

Venial Sin

According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin or forgiveable sin is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation in hell. A venial sin involves a partial loss of grace from God.

A venial sin meets at least one of the following criteria:

1. It does not concern a grave matter,

2. It is not committed with full knowledge, or

3. It is not committed with both deliberate and complete consent.

As the above criteria are the three criteria for mortal sin stated negatively, a sin which met none of these extenuating conditions would necessarily be considered mortal.

Rotari’s Penitent Girl

Each venial sin that one commits adds to the penance that one must do. Penance left undone during life converts to punishment in purgatory. A venial sin can be left unconfessed, though – so long as there is some purpose of amendment – it is helpful to confess, for one receives from the sacrament grace to help overcome it.

Venial sins usually remain venial no matter how many one commits. They cannot add up to collectively constitute a mortal sin. However, there are cases where repeat offences may become a grave matter. For instance, if one were to steal small amounts of property from a particular person, over time one would have stolen enough that it would become a serious theft from that person.

In all this, one ought not to take venial sin lightly, especially when committed deliberately. No one without a special grace can avoid even semi-deliberate venial sins entirely – according to the definition of Trent. But one must, even to avoid mortal sins, seek as far as possible to overcome venial sin; for though a number of venial sins do not themselves add up to a mortal sin, each venial sin weakens the will further, and the more willing one becomes in allowing such falls, the more one is inclined towards, and will inevitably fall into – if one continues along this path – mortal sin.

Stony Broke

‘I’m as poor as a church mouse, that’s just had an enormous tax bill on the very day his wife ran off with another mouse, taking all the cheese.’

– Joseph M. 1998. Blackadder The Whole Damn Dynasty London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (1999) p. 309

Vernacular [Noun.]

  • The language of a people, a national language.
  • Language unique to a particular group of people; jargon, argot.
  • Everyday speech, including colloquialisms, as opposed to literary or liturgical language.
  • In Christianity, the indigenous language of a people, into which the words of the Roman Catholic mass are translated.

Buttons And History

The buttons on the sleeves of men’s jackets serve no real purpose today. But there are many stories explaining how they came to be there.

Sleeve Buttons

One story involves Frederick the Great, who was King of Prussia in the 1700s. Frederick’s armies were involved in a great many wars, and he was often on the field of battle with his troops. One of his concerns, so the story goes, was the appearance of his men.

One day, as he went about inspecting his soldiers, he became quite upset at the dirty sleeves of their uniforms. When he asked why the sleeves were dirtier than the rest of the uniforms, he was told that the soldiers wiped the sweat from their faces on their sleeves.

Frederick refused to have this habit continue, so to stop it, he ordered metal buttons sewn on the top side of all soldiers’ sleeves. That way, if the men wiped their faces, using their sleeves as a towel, they would get badly scratched.

Eventually these buttons were put on civilians’ jackets as well, but only as decoration.

Suit jackets in all styles typically have three or four buttons on each cuff, which are often purely decorative. The number of buttons is primarily a function of the formality of the suit; a very casual summer sports jacket might traditionally – in the 1930s – have had only one button, while tweed suits typically have three and city suits four. In the 1970s, two buttons were seen on some city suits. Today, four buttons are common on most business suits and even casual suits.

Although the sleeve buttons usually cannot be undone, the stitching is such that it appears they could. Functional cuff buttons may be found on high-end or bespoke suits; this feature is called a surgeon’s cuff. Some wearers leave these buttons undone to reveal that they can afford a bespoke suit, although it is proper to leave these buttons done up. Modern bespoke styles and high end off-the-rack suits equipped with surgeon’s cuffs have the last two buttons stitched off-centre, so that the sleeve hangs more cleanly should the buttons ever be undone.

A cuffed sleeve has an extra length of fabric folded back over the arm, or just some piping or stitching above the buttons to allude to the edge of a cuff. This was popular in the Edwardian era, as a feature of formal-wear such as frock coats carried over to informal-wear, but is now rare.

On the number of buttons:

– Five buttons (or more). Very rare and often considered as too flamboyant.

– Four sleeve buttons are most common on any style of jacket. Considered proper and slightly more formal than three.

– Three sleeve buttons are second most common, mostly seen on single breasted and dinner jackets, or very casual and informal jackets.

– Two sleeve buttons are quite rare and one will probably only ever see them on bespoke garments.

– A single sleeve button will only ever be seen on proper dinner jackets. However, most tailors will opt for the more common four or three buttons.

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