Caught in the Crossfire: Escaping High Conflict Contagion

Understanding High Conflict Contagion Through Projection and Emotional Spread

In this episode of It’s All Your Fault, hosts Megan Hunter and Bill Eddy from the High Conflict Institute discuss high conflict contagion through examining psychological projection and emotional spread.

Bill and Megan explain projection, where someone unconsciously projects their own feelings or behaviors onto another person. They share examples of how this manifests in workplace, family, and relationship conflicts, feeding high conflict contagion. Bill notes projection is often entirely unconscious and the projector fully believes their accusations to be true.

The hosts go on to discuss high conflict emotional contagion, where emotions rapidly spread between people during conflict. Bill explains how emotions like anger or fear can quickly spread in a polarized group or during a family dispute, amplifying high conflict contagion. Megan notes recognizing contagion is key to avoiding danger in groups.


You may be wondering:

  • How do projection and deflection relate to high conflict contagion?
  • What signs indicate someone is projecting onto me?
  • How do mirror neurons spread high conflict emotions?
  • Why does contagion lead to splitting and polarization?
  • How can I avoid getting hooked by high conflict contagion?


Key Takeaways:

  • Projection unconsciously spreads high conflict emotions
  • High conflict accusations often feel credible but are inaccurate
  • Contagion rapidly spreads high conflict emotions like anger
  • Recognizing contagion prevents group polarization
  • Checking assumptions avoids getting hooked by high conflict contagion

Bill and Megan provide insight into projection and emotional contagion as drivers of high conflict contagion in the workplace and family. Tune in to learn how to identify and respond to these unconscious dynamics.

Links & Other Notes

Note: We are not diagnosing anyone in our discussions, merely discussing patterns of behavior.

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