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Transference - how to come through the over side?

Thread starter #1
So my therapy session tomorrow will obviously be me losing the pretence of the tiny shred of dignity that I like to think I have left, and talk about my transference to/with/for my T. Again.

It's so unbelievably painful. I've been reading uphill and downdale about it. But all the reading I have done I still can't fathom: how to solve it.

My T is good. We connect. She has raised it. I have raised it. She explains it. She normalised it. She's managing it.
But these last two days I have had such intense feelings. Awful. So painful. So embarrassing. I'm obsessing about her. I can't focus on work. (These last two days it's been intense becuase she said she would email me in our last session, and just took her time to. Put me in an utter spin - totally disproportionate to the situation. Tears and everything - and this is tears from someone who has only just learned to cry aged 41).

Have you gone through this?
Please please tell me how you have gotten passed it and how these painful emotions have gone.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#2
I am really sorry @Movingforward10 that you are in the grip of this obsessive feelings (as it sounds to me) about your therapist.

IMHO, I take transference something I need to deal with my therapist. I take it in such a feeling triggered in therapy, advancing in my body, and playing out with her because feelings need something to attach! One cannot just have a feeling in vacuum - usually there is an external (a thing or a person) or internal (pain etc) that initiates. Therapy process is such an event where the other person is not in a reciprocal relationship...They know you intimately about how you think and feel but you do not really know how they do their life or make a decision or value this or that...and that creates this intense where your feelings are so high and must go and the person they should is like hmmmm let us talk about YOUR FEELINGS not our feelings together.

So in my experience, I see transference intellectual exercise as well as emotional processing.

I hope this makes sense for you in your own digesting and exploring but I will give you how I see it.

I have a very violent background so I have a lot of anger (its root is interference with my natural aggression). I feel very young age, I was intruded upon like poking a snake with a stick and I tried to bite the stick but obviously could not (with my little baby mouth) and eventually, resigned, dissociated, gave up. It is apt (part of my trauma I choose snake! but not a little rabbit or a dog)....more work to be done.😊

In therapy, I often go through this extreme anger phase, where I feel so self-righteous, or the therapist is taking words out of my mouth and making them as if she came up with this interpretation and I fume BUT yet as a mature person, I notice the fume and not act out but express a lot of grievances, resentfulness, being projected and victimhood feelings, stories and ideas until I am super conscious of my anger toward her. Then I bring up with preface this is my story and my feeling of anger...

but before I bring up, outside of the therapy, I can easily take my anger of her in my head and beat her down! so now I am in the grip of serious transference and how do I get out of it? Cause one cannot do work, life, relationship when fighting with the image of therapist that is doing her life some where else? no difference than perpetuating trauma or flashback!

This is where I use intellectual power. I cannot as an adult believe so easily someone will come and make the ache go away. I am responsible for my feelings. So just acknowledging I am angry at this person whom I hired to help me is my responsibility and this somewhat makes is a bit more palatable! Now I have the feeling of anger against her and my anger is too big for whatever she said. If a friend or my husband said that I would not fume so deep! so acknowledging, respecting and recognizing my body talking to me this way helps me understand why I am in therapy in the first place.

The emotional part is much harder and honestly I do not think I can do justice trying to articulate but feeling the intensity of the feeling to my therapist is always an alert for me this is why I am in therapy. To learn this "part" of me. So that is why I use the snake metaphor to show you how I may have experienced my anger and intrusion to my natural early life aggression and how it engulfed me - making me feel I am just anger or a snake when in reality I have angry parts (cause there is another part writing about it) so I am not 100% anger - but that feeling of 100% anger is the pain. No one is 100% that feeling. but when one feeling is so engrossing and becomes almost an identity, it is painful!

Without knowing your full story, I think over-obsessing your therapist to me sounds like there was time a love was not return to you from someone you loved very much and very deeply and that pain is coming to the foreground. it feels awful, shameful and just crazy making because the feeling is being attached to the therapist but the memory is in your body and mind. There is no any way to dig up these feelings without being triggered so you are triggered.

If you try to stick it to the therapist, it wont work because she is not really that person who truly hurt you so bad at such vulnerable state. Therapist is representation of that person. But if you approach it as your own story, feeling, body speaking in feelings, and approach her as such please play along to release this feelings so I can I can see and feel and grieve, then you may have a great chance of seeing how you felt then that only your body remembers. I hope she can facilitate you without pretending it is about her and she has such power of you cause that is just re-framing it as a new trauma. I hope be compassionate for your hurt, rejection and maybe even abandonment feelings that coming up for processing and integration.

I am passionate about transference and find the intense of feelings from the past still playing out today in a weird manifestations and metafeeling/logical aspect of it very interesting and honestly a good way to heal but we do need to employ both our mind/body and intellect in the adult form.

It is very hard process and it takes few times to finally get it and even maybe have aha! moment...but a lot of times, the grip just goes away cause your body feels respected, loved, and safe cause YOU are giving that nurturing that you wished you had in the past because that one experience and its feelings did not become all of you!

I highlight the last sentence cause ultimately that is all I would like you to remember from this post. (sorry I cannot unbold this one too>>)
 
#3
Yes it’s to be expected depending on the source of your trauma. Before I experienced it I read about it in “trauma and recovery” by Judith Herman, which I always expect everyone has read. I have no idea why I would think that. But in it there is some discussion re the therapy relationship with CSA survivors which I am. This week she said “I think you project onto me” to which I replied “I think you project onto me”. Clever comeback.

We’ve been doing this for years. I make it a point not to look it up. We are very intimate. Maybe the most intimate I’ve ever been with another human being ? I’m very intimate with my wife after 30 years. In a different way. We were actually talking about it a little this morning.

I sought out the therapist for this I knew I had to tell someone and I have. I told her everything. It took years though. I’m missing her now because we aren’t meeting in person and it’s not working for me on the phone.

It’s got to be one of the most difficult relationships imaginable. I don’t see any other way though? Not for me anyway. It’s been very helpful.
 
Thread starter #4
Thanks @grit , I can't tell you how helpful your reply has been. I am going to re-read it.
I totally get what you are saying about the intellectual understanding of transference and then the emotional.

I think I am still struggling with the intellectual side of the concept, in terms of precisely how it relates to me. Because for the majority of my life I have looked after me, at times better than other times. So I have this rigid view of: not needing parents. And I think this is hindering my ability to precisely see how my younger parts are seeing my T as a parental figure.
But I have absolute issues of abandonment and fear of being ridiculed by my parent, and fear of behaving in a wrong way to either be ignored or further ridicule. So I think this has been playing out these last couple of days.
It's how I work through that. I just can't figure it out. It feels so shameful to talk to my T about it. She's a similar age to me. I'm in my 40's, and here I am crying becuase she didn't email me immediately and that made me think she didn't care/had forgotten me etc etc etc.

I'm desperate to be able to find a way to parent my inner child. I don't want this transference.
I want a *normal* feeling towards my T. Although I have no idea what that feels like? What is that?
 
Thread starter #5
It’s got to be one of the most difficult relationships imaginable. I don’t see any other way though? Not for me anyway. It’s been very helpful.
Thanks @Mach123 , it is such a difficult relationship to navigate as it's like no other and I have no reference point about how it is meant to be. It messes with my mind.
 
#6
Yes, I've encountered erotic transference with my T, embarrassingly enough. I scoured the internet trying to find an excuse not to tell her, but absolutely everything said that I had to talk about it with her. So I did. Now that was embarrassing. My trauma was sexual, so over time I started seeing my T as a safe person to put my sexual feelings on.

The thing is, transference of any kind is absolutely normal and natural. This is a person that cares about you in a way that nobody else does - with an absolute lack of judgment - and truly wants to help you. When I think about it that way, it's kind of weird if transference doesn't develop.

You can manage transference. You feel what you feel, but you also understand why you feel that way you do. It's kind of freeing for me to know exactly why I feel the way I do.
 
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#8
So, I went through the whole attachment trauma/ fear of abandonment thing with my ex, not with my T... I'll spare you the details! 😛

What I found incredibly helpful was Diane Poole Heller's audiobook "Heal your attachment wounds" and her (paper) book on the same topic - slightly different title, but same content.

So healing, so soothing, so insightful. Can recommend it highly for everything relating to attachment/ abandonment/ isolation/ dependence/ etc.
 
#9
I think over-obsessing your therapist to me sounds like there was time a love was not return to you from someone you loved very much and very deeply and that pain is coming to the foreground. it feels awful, shameful and just crazy making because the feeling is being attached to the therapist but the memory is in your body and mind. There is no any way to dig up these feelings without being triggered so you are triggered.
I am passionate about transference and find the intense of feelings from the past still playing out today in a weird manifestations and metafeeling/logical aspect of it very interesting and honestly a good way to heal but we do need to employ both our mind/body and intellect in the adult form.
@grit this was a really fascinating, well-considered post that hits me in a positive way. Thank you!
 
Thread starter #10
Thought I would update here.

I opened up to my T about my transference. And we had a really good discussion over a couple of sessions about it. She spoke about her countertransference (feeling parental and care). She's now using the transference in moving forward.
She really helped to make the embarrassment of it go away. She totally normalised it. She wasn't repulsed. She clearly was expecting it and waiting for me to bring it all up.
I still have a lot to figure out. And I think we'll have to revisit it again and again. But, the emotional pain of it all has been taken out (for now!).
I *think* I have accepted it.
I also think I'll be talking about it again in therapy this week.
 
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