Is erotic transference merely a sexual fantasy about your therapist? Is it a desire for steamy, big screen sex with him? Might something else be happening?
In reality, what some clients are experiencing is a potentially harmful side effect of psychotherapy and one that should be taken far more seriously by the profession. In the initial stages of therapy, such transferences are usually idealising, because clients tend to project onto their therapists the qualities they longed for from their early carers, and so experience them in a particularly positive way. However, for a small but significant number of people, the experience is very different: the idealisation intensifies rather than fades, and the client becomes increasingly consumed with and dependent on thoughts about the therapist.
Verified by Psychology Today. In Therapy. Once again, we have a disguised and distorted letter from an unidentifiable and possibly fictional reader:.
The term transference was first used by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud — and his mentor Josef Breuer — in to describe a shift of feelings, desires, and modes of relating that were experienced in important past relationships, typically with one's mother and father, to another person. In psychoanalysis, the other person would be the psychoanalyst; in everyday life the shift could be to anyone with whom the subject has a significant relationship, including a colleague, supervisor, or spouse. Erotic transference is a shift to another person of erotic feelings, desires, and modes of relating, heterosexual or homosexual, that have some connection to past erotic attachments. In psychoanalysis, an erotic attachment occurs when, for example, a male patient wants to be loved by his female analyst and these feelings extend to a desire for a sexual relationship with the analyst.
Brighton Therapy Partnership held a CPD training event on the topic of erotic transference and countertransference in Erotic transference is a term used to describe the feelings of love and the fantasies of a sexual or sensual nature that a client experiences about their therapist. Anna O was infatuated with Breuer, even having a phantom pregnancy with what she believed to be his child.
If you have questions about anything in this post, or questions about things not discussed in this post, please feel free to ask a question in the comments or send me the question privately at the email address in the right column. I got a request from a reader to discuss erotic transference, so I thought I would share a few thoughts. I do want to be clear that although I have done a lot of reading about erotic transference, most of what I write here is based on my own experience and so may not be all that universal.
It strikes me that I did not elaborate on erotic transference in my recent blog post about transference. It seems to me that sexual feelings towards a therapist are often some of the most uncomfortable and difficult feelings that can emerge within the relationship. As I talk about erotic transference, I want to confess some ambivalence about the term.
Erotic transference at first feels like falling in love and has a euphoric quality, but my experience is that it has the potential to be quite emotionally damaging and lingering. For me, after nearly two years, there is still a deep longing, restlessness, and melancholy that will not subside. It's described as torturous by some of the patients on this website and I think that pretty much sums it up. Also, it seems there are different forms of transference, and my experience is with the most serious — eroticized transference.
It has been about 6 months now. The reason I write to you today is that I would like your help in dealing with this anger I have building with regard to the mental health profession. I was raised by the worst kind of parents and left for neglect by a sadist who in turn did whatever he wanted to me for 4 of the very crucial formative years of my life.
Erotic transference is a relatively common process in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In spite of its difficult management, when appropriately understood and managed, erotic transference may become a useful tool in the therapeutic process. In this review, we will address the concept of erotic transference, with emphasis on the difficulties faced in the technical management of the process, as well as the use of countertransference and the influence of gender in this situation.