Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Floating Obsessions

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 7, 2012

Lola, fifty-five, became obsessed with me, in that scary sense. She followed me home. She thought about me all the time and every session was about what she was thinking about me. The frequency of our visits, three times a week, intensified her obsession. One could have argued that the psychoanalytic approach was exacerbating her condition and not helping her, as our work together fed her preoccupation with me. Yet, five years later, Lola stopped her obsession with me and now she leads a happier and more balanced life. We still work together three times a week and there are many important issues in her life that we explore including her challenging childhood and her difficult interpersonal relationships. Where did her obsession go, one might wonder. She has now transferred her fixation on to plants. She plants exotic flowers in her garden and she obsessively keeps a journal about where she bought the plant, the date she planted it, and how the plants are doing over time. In essence, her obsession with me, potentially destructive to our relationship, has transformed into an obsession with plants, which enhances her personality and is a wonderful outlet for her need to be focused in-depth on one topic. Together, Lola and I marvel at her transformation. We can’t entirely understand it, but we both believe that our tenacity, our sticking to our relationship, despite the hard times, made her see that she could gain insight into her behavior if she stopped focusing on me and my behaviors. In other words, she was testing me to see if I could withstand her intense focus. The “hazing” lasted a long time, but in retrospect, it was time well spent. We are into a more interesting phase of our relationship and it feels like we are on a good track. Who knew?

2 Responses to “Floating Obsessions”

  1. Shelly said

    Shirah, this was a scary piece. I am hoping it was fictional? How did it feel for you to be a fixation of someone’s obsession? Did you ever feel threatened? What causes someone to be obsessed with one’s therapist? Is this a case of severe transference? Why does this happen? What causes the shift from being the object of one’s obsession to being obsessed with plants?

  2. Yes, this is fictional, but obsessions are real and interesting aspects of all human relationships. They are a hazard for everyone who engages in close relationships with others. All obsessions serve as distractions from one’s internal world. Distractions can be positive, as her in her obsession with plants, but they can also be negative, as was her obsession with me. Turning the need to have distractions from life into positive outlets-good hobbies, if you will-is one of the pleasures of my work.

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