Well, that is quite the discussion on transference that happened on my previous post. I’m so pleased my small, but dedicated and insightful, band of readers has so much opinion and insight on this murky topic. This is obviously a complex issue with lots of philosophy and history behind it. Just wanted to add that I obviously did not come up with the idea, and there is lots of reading by very great writers, therapists, and philosophers to be done by anyone who is deeply interested.
Driving to my session Friday, I am feeling sad about the previous night’s group, though not depressed. I’m not scared of my session this time.
I walk into Ron’s office, and he tells me I overpaid him last time by 10 bucks. I laugh and say he should buy himself a beer on me, I’m sure he needs one after a session with me. He smiles at that.
E. I didn’t bring a topic, not sure what to talk about today.
R. What about the emails we’ve exchanged?
E. Oh yeah.
And I am completely blanking out. The session ended in an upsetting way, so I can’t seem to remember the rest of it.
Ron had responded to an email of mine by saying I should allow myself to have ‘effects’, and it hey were not what I wanted, we could work to modify them. It turns out he means don’t backtrack on what I say in group. For instance, the previous evening I made a comment to Z, but then when it seemed to upset her, I took it back to some extent. It’s true, I don’t like to hurt people.
E. But I do say what I think, even if it’s negative, especially compared to the rest of the group.
R. Don’t compare to the rest of the group. You are allowed to affect people and stay with your own truth.
And this is a valid point, and I take it on board. I do have a tendency to backtrack when the person gets upset. I forget about the ‘modifying the effects to what I deeply want them to be’ part of his comment. I still don’t know what he meant by that.
Then I complain about some interactions in the group, for instance that I feel that Z totally backs down from her point and makes it all her fault, when it’s not.
R. Didn’t you think she showed insight?
E. I don’t think Z needs more insight, I think she needs to learn to stand up for herself. In my opinion.
E. It’s really obvious that everyone in the group is focused on A, and worrying about whether A likes them or not. Why do you think that is?
R. Why do you think that is? What drew you to A when you felt like that?
E. Well….I liked that he kept saying he liked me. No one else seemed to, so it meant a lot to me. But, in the group, even E, whom A has said the worst things to, still wants him to like her. She never gets mad at him the way I would. I don’t know. He’s a young male, in his thirties, fairly good looking. But so is Y. I don’t know what it is.
E. So why do you think the group is focused on A?
R. Well, I think most people said last night how lonely they felt in the group. I think A gives a lot of feedback. He talks a lot, and it’s that simple. He’s like a lifeline for people.
E. But I talk a lot also, and so does E. I actually didn’t feel that he gave me a lot of feedback last year in the group.
E. I think A pretends to be caring and Mr Sensitive. He’s copying you. But I think if you were in a group, you’d be a real person, not a therapist. He’s trying to be a therapist, and it bugs the hell out of me. I don’t think it’s honest.
R. You think A isn’t honest?
E. I think he believes he is, so on one level he is, but on another level, he’s fooling himself.
R. Well, you get to say that in the group. Over and over, if you wish.
E. Yeah, I guess I could say it. I just….I don’t want to waste my time here discussing the group. Like I said in my email.
R. Can I just say one more thing?
I don’t say anything, so Ron continues. I feel irritated with him, anger boiling away under the surface, for an unknown reason.
R. The group can help you with your PTSD (I’d emailed him that it stopped me from working on it). It can let you bring those experiences into the group. It can help with the parts also in the same way. Right now they’re shame based – you’re ashamed of them.
I consider this. Maybe it’s true, I don’t know. I continue to feel angry. We sit.
E. I feel angry with you.
R. How come.
E. You don’t seem to get what it’s like for me. I don’t work the way the rest of the group does. It’s totally different for me. I am in parts.
R. Then tell me the parts, one at a time.
I don’t say anything.
R. How can I understand how it is for you when you don’t tell me. I need you to tell me so I can understand.
E. You are a therapist and you are supposed to understand things like this. I can’t explain it.
Now Ron begins telling me some theory about therapy. I understood it at the time, but can’t recall now what it was.
E. I’m still angry.
R. Why do you feel like that?
E. Do you ask all your clients why? We don’t know why. That’s why we come to see you, because we don’t know.
Ron says some other theoretical type thing.
I am furious.
E. I wish….I wish you’d just die!
I’m seeing red. I hate him with every ounce of my being. I do wish he’d drop dead right there.
I get up to leave.
E I just want to go home.
R. Stay here. Stay here and feel it.
So I sit on the couch and fume.
R. How do the rest of the parts feel about this? What does the kid feel?
So the kid comes out.
E (kid) I don’t know why you don’t talk to me. I’m here and I’m nice.
R. Sometimes I have to talk to your mom about things.
E. You ALWAYS talk to her. Not me. You don’t talk to me. I don’t know about complicated stuff but I’m still nice.
Still crying childishly.
R. (in a ‘special’ voice I suppose he uses for kids) That’s why you need your mom.
E. (switched out of the kid again) Just fuck off.
Ron sits back and looks at me. We sit. I feel a kind of blank rage with no real content. There are maybe two minutes left.
After a minute, Ron asks if there’s anything I want to say before the end of the session. I shake my head no, and leave a minute or so early.
R. Take care.
So, that’s why I wanted to explain transference to you before I blogged this session.
I’m still trying to make sense of my rage. How could I have talked like that to Ron, whom I care about and whom I am attached to? I don’t get it. I am shocked at myself.