Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Mother Figure

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 30, 2010

   Jennifer, twenty-four, comes in describing her fertile experiences with internet dating. There is Jeremy, the twenty-seven year old artist, Stanley, the thirty-two year old with a “boring 9-5,” Casper, the twenty-six year old “who is really cool.” As I try to keep these guys straight, I get the feeling that she is monitoring my reaction as she describes each one. I say to her “it seems like you are looking at me to help you decide who you should pursue.” She responds “well, I do care what you think.” I pause and then say “gee, why do you care what I think?” “I know you want the best for me, so I figure that what you think is going to help me,” she responds.

   Transference comes to my mind. Jennifer has assigned me the role of the benevolent mom who wants the best for her child. By monitoring my reaction to her dating stories she is sorting through her feelings. She is using me as a tool to help her find her way through a series of dating relationships. This process is unconscious since in the moment she is only aware that she is telling me about her life since I have last seen her. When I point out to her that she is monitoring my reaction, she quickly agrees. She appreciates the opportunity  to think about her love life with me. She values  her perception of my reactions. Our relationship has meaning.

2 Responses to “Mother Figure”

  1. Shelly said

    I can understand Jennifer’s feelings. She most likely feels that since you know her intimately through your therapy sessions as well as your being a student of people’s behavior (verbal and non-verbal), you, most likely, will be able to sort through the men to help her find one that would be good for her. What an interesting profession you have! It must be fulfilling in some ways, and quite heavy in others.

    • Yep! The issue is that how Jennifer sees me changes. Sometimes she sees me as a benevolent maternal figure and sometimes she sees me as someone who wants to control her life. Of course, my behavior influences how I am seen, but it is tricky to determine how much is me and how much is Jennifer. The changing of the tides is interesting, but as you say, also “heavy”.

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