This term means that when you see someone or something that reminds of someone or something in your past you tend to build a kind of fantasy around that someone or something, as if it is what you know. For example, if you loved your father, the man who reminds you of him instantly gets your trust and affection just as if he was your father. You attribute all the traits of your father to this person without much evidence.
You y ‘find’ these traits because you are looking for them. You become so focused that you discard all other evidence. If Bernice Plotz made your High School life unhappy, this woman who resembles her instantly gets your opprobrium.
You don’t like her and then find reasons why. Everything that this woman does that is vaguely similar to the behaviour of Bernice is enlarged to the extent that she is ‘just like’ Bernice although she may be nothing like her.
This kind of false overlay distorts perception. Unless you become aware of it, then it will effect you.
Many people judge others without thinking based on past experiences. This Parataxic Distortion will effect your perceptions. What you need to do is when you ‘instantly’ like or dislike someone, try to figure out why so that you don’t lead yourself astray.