Transference occurs when we view the events of the present through the lens of past experience. We do transference every day with all the people with whom we interact. We are largely unaware that we are doing this because the process is largely unconscious.

Transference is why we like the music we like, the movies we like, and why we may identify with particular friends more than others. Likewise, transference is why we dislike other types of music, movies, and, alas, people.

Repressed trauma often attaches itself to transferential experiences and relationships. We haven’t dealt with the original trauma, and because of this, when it is triggered (whether or not we are consciously aware of the triggers) we react to the present experience either in the manner with which we reacted to the original, or in the manner in which we subconsciously wish we’d reacted to the original event. In other words, we enact fight or flight responses to transferential experiences and relationships.

To be honest, I don’t think there is a way around this. I do believe that by accessing and voicing past trauma, we can mitigate our reactivity to transference, but I do not believe we can ever overcome transference or make it stop. At best, we can become aware of it; we can become aware of our body’s response to stimuli. When we recognize our physiological responses to circumstances, we may be able to isolate the cause by investigating what, from the present, elicited the sudden onslaught of feeling, from the past. However, this requires, first, that we make amends with past trauma.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

There are few motivations for digging up what’s repressed. This is why so few people actually do the thing. Who wants to relive those moments most disruptive–most destructive–to our sense of self and reality?!

Yet this is absolutely necessary in order to have command of the future–in order to repair relationships of the present.

My husband and I were married for eight years before we had our first child. This was intentional. I knew my childhood left me with unbearable scars. I could not bring another life into the world, with the knowledge that I would be the source of their trauma. This is my current motivation; I dig up the past–dive into the past–because of my kids. I do not want to work out my trauma in my relationships with them.

I will not.

I insist on my own awareness, knowing I will make mistakes, but also knowing that in developing awareness, I will mitigate much of the damage I could cause.

Because I will own my shit.

Because I will apologize.

Because I will validate their responses to the shit I sling at them.

We can do better.

We must.

About Author

Standing ground for desire through self-study of philosophy and psychoanalysis, self-reflection, and creative sublimation through the work of literary fiction.

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