Without the swagger and the wild threats, Alan Peter Cayetano’s ‘blame the media” defense of the the SEAG mess should be dismissed by the media as just “projecting” to critics the offenses that the games organizers have committed.
Cayetano can line up all 24 of his deputy speakers and his House committee chairmen to launch investigations in his defense, but their labors will come to nothing if their object is to show that the dysfunctions and chaos that have dogged the Games’ preparations are just “fake news.”
Whenever “fake news” is used as a defense for error or wrongdoing, it is a sure sign of projecting or projection. It is also indicative of guilt.
I have the great Sigmund Freud on my side on this one.
Freud on projection
Take the time to read this brief explanation of Freud’s idea of projection, because it will prove useful in judging our public officials and public figures when they are spotlighted in the news.
The legendary Austrian psychoanalyst defined “projection” as a psychological defense mechanism in which people repress their own shameful thoughts and impulses by attributing them to others.
Also known as “shame-dumping,” projection is a form of denial, or “negation,” as Freud called it in a 1894 paper, “The Neuro-psychoses of Defense.”
Examples of Freudian projection include a rude person accusing others of being rude or an adulterer accusing his wife of cheating on him.
The psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, says projection shifts your “own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings onto someone else.”
It may help you deal with “unconscious feelings of shame and inadequacy,” according to a 2017 paper on “maladaptive personalities” in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
So, when we hear political groups and ideologues constantly accuse their enemies, without evidence, of all kinds of crimes, chances are they’re projecting.
Encyclopaedia Britannica also calls projection an “ego-defense mechanism.”
Britannica describes projection as follows:
“Defense mechanism, in psychoanalytic theory, any of a group of mental processes that enables the mind to reach compromise solutions to conflicts that it is unable to resolve. The process is usually unconscious, and the compromise generally involves concealing from oneself internal drives or feelings that threaten to lower self-esteem or provoke anxiety. The concept derives from the psychoanalytic hypothesis that there are forces in the mind that oppose and battle against each other. The term was first used in Sigmund Freud’s paper ‘The Neuro-psychoses of Defense’ (1894).”
Cayetano’s ego-defense mechanism
When Speaker Cayetano held his news conference at the Club Filipino on Thursday, he used projection principally as an ego-defense mechanism. He tried to sound righteous and courageous.
Cayetano challenged his critics to hold him accountable for the shortcomings of the SEA Games, and then warned that charges would be filed against them if proven wrong.
But they are already holding him accountable. That is why they are publicly criticizing him and his Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.
As for his threat of charges, no one in the media is quaking in their boots. This probably will spur them to dig for the truth about the SEA Games even more.
Much of what Cayetano said was superfluous, empty or just hot air.
He declared: “Come December 12, hold me accountable. Hold the SEA Games organizing committee accountable. Hindi ako magtatago. Ako haharap sa Senado, sa Ombudsman, (I will not hide. I will face the Senate and the Ombudsman).”
He cannot hide, even if he wanted to.
No matter how much he postures as fearless in facing investigation, what will count is whether his leadership and management of the SEA Games is a success or a failure, and whether graft and ethical violations have been committed.
In the end, Cayetano and his cohorts will have to answer to the law.
Cayetano also claimed that he would unmask the individuals behind an alleged “operation” to smear the SEA Games. In his mind, there is a conspiracy to smear the SEA Games. Really?
To the people behind the spreading of fake news, he told them to be ready because he will “unmask you.” Really?
Cayetano also threatened to file libel or cyberlibel charges against personalities spreading false information on social media.
All this noise suggests in my view that something was or is really wrong with the planning and organization of the SEA Games.
This is why Cayetano is projecting like crazy. He wants everything that goes awry to be blamed on others, including the media.
Cayetano is totally in denial about allegations that he sought command and control of the SEA Games, although he absolutely has no experience in sports leadership and management, let alone in organizing an international sporting event. He is in denial about the accusation that he abused the power of the Congress and his closeness to President Duterte to force government approval of arrangements in which he had a conflict of interest.
Cayetano is surely not alone in using projection as a defense mechanism. In life, psychological projection is something that we all do to some extent, but psychologists say it is common for people to suffer greatly for such a habit. If you are a chronic projector you will experience a great deal of anxiety around other people, as well as other unpleasant emotions like anger, disappointment, resentment and prejudice on a daily basis.
What happens when you have a whole bunch of uncomfortable, embarrassing and annoying emotions that you don’t want to unconsciously deal with? According to Freud, these emotions are projected on to other people, so that other people become carriers of our own perceived flaws. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for us, this form of emotional displacement makes it much easier to live with ourselves — because everyone else is responsible for our misery, not us.