We live in a world where every-day life consists of transferring money. We know where we're sending our funds and have expectations associated with the transfer. Transference in Psychology is kind of the same and kind of different. The transfer happens alright, but the problem stems from our unawareness around when it happens and the direction is flows. We give out emotions without recognizing where it's really intended to go. Huge problem, right? Can you imagine if your bank account could just start sending out Benjamins to who knows where at any point of the day? Talk about ANXIETY! Stresses me out just thinking about it.
Well, we do that exact thing in the form of emotional transference every - single - day. Freud (AKA 'the Father of Modern Psychology') came up with this concept and, although it pains me to say it because I'm not the biggest Freud fan - it's valid. We absolutely give out emotions unwittingly to people. "The classic use of the term transference comes from psychoanalysis and includes: “the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.” We all do this all the time. A boss at work reminds you of your cranky grandmother, so you cower accordingly. The guy next to you on the train reminds you of your college friend Stan so you crack a joke that Stan would appreciate, to the train-stranger's bewilderment."
Did you catch the Freud scent? It's in the whole, "especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood". But does it have to be from Childhood? I don't think so. Does it stem from a place of unawareness - yes. The important piece to gain out of this new insight you're gaining is that now you can start connecting you're feeling a certain 'vibe' towards someone else as a potential unwarranted transfer or emotions. Now you're more prepared not to give out your emotional funds in ignorance. Don't forget, 'Transference' isn't just negative emotions! They can be positive emotions too. Do you like them more than you should? Do you absolutely not trust them for some reason? Do you feel intimidated or insecure around a certain person or crowd? These can all be the result, or a reflection of a past experience with a completely different person.
My favorite part of the term 'transference' is putting in the 'counter'. Counter-transference takes place when insight is beginning and we're able to start identifying potential transference issues that are taking place. Kind of like you're able to finally monitor your bank for emotional transfers. Think of it as 'countering' a move in chess. Transference makes a move and you counter the move with awareness. Begin taking the 'transference' out of your unconsciousness and start countering the transference by asking yourself, "who does this person remind me of?" Or, "what does this situation remind me of?" Just start being curious as to why you're feeling or having more than rational emotions towards things.
See more on this by visiting my youtube 'meaning to live therapy tips' channel.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and schedule an appointment to learn more about how Transference may be effecting your life.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC