Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Transference

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 15, 2016

“Psychoanalytic treatment does not create transference, it merely brings them to light like so many other hidden psychical factors.” Freud, 1905

 

“I am just not comfortable with your shoes,” a fictional patient, Trey, sixty-one tells me, to my astonishment. “What do you mean you are not comfortable?” I ask, feeling clueless about his comment. “I mean, they do not suit your outfit and they just make me uncomfortable, ” he protests. “Tell me more about this feeling of discomfort,” I ask, hoping for clarity, which never seems to come. “I know this sounds silly, ” he continues, “but I trust you more when I like what you are wearing.” Again, I am confused, but aware that this discussion is about his pre-conceived notions of authority. I sense that to him, being in power is strongly associated with a professional look, and as such, he was raised to associate appearance with wisdom. This superficial connection, as I suspect, has caused him great difficulty in his life, as he is a sucker for the polish without the substance. He never grew to appreciate the inner workings of relationship which involve loyalty and dedication because in his background, appearance trumped sincerity. As he focuses on my shoes, I am reminded of his traumatic beginnings where there was a confusion as people he was told to trust turned out to be disloyal, leading him to feel anxious and unhappy in his close relationships. He repeats these poor judgments by commenting on my shoes. He opens the window into his childhood in which I can now appreciate that the trappings of wealth were of such high value in his family that he became blind to the bonds of good relationship which depend on honesty and reliability. If I did not understand transference, I will tell my students, I would be completely taken aback by his focus on my clothing. With understanding this phenomena, I am still confused, but I know I am in a transference confusion and that is the area I need to pursue. Freud, once again, has guided my thinking so that although the path to helping Trey is not linear, I do have tools to help me.

2 Responses to “Transference”

  1. Shelly said

    Well, it sounds to me like countertransference can happen to, can’t it? Looking good and professional is important to you as well. Who knows what feelings you have associated with your professionalism and being the mother figure to Trey…and everything that conjures up. Maybe it bothers you that whatever you do to get into professional mode in the morning–who knows what kind of morning you had before you got to work? may not have worked that day…….? What I mean to say is, you may understand transference, but do you understand the countertransference issue as well?

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