My view of myself and my life’s ambition is entangled with the desire of my Parental Other. By Parental Other, I mean those who raised me; in my case, this consists of my birth mother and birth father.
“The Other’s desire causes ours. What we sometimes consider to be most personal and intimate turns out to come from elsewhere, from some outside source. And not just any source: our parents, of all people!Bruce Fink, A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis
According to Freud, not only is this normal, but it is also essential “during adolescence…to detach ourselves from our parents” (Fink). The unfortunate reality is that most of us fail to do this. We subsume the desire of our parents into ourselves and live out our lives in the attempt to please or thwart those desires (or some muddled combination of both). The goal of analysis is to help the analysand (person in therapy) to detach–to assert responsibility over their own desires and drive.
“The analyst assumes the role of cause of the analysand’s desire…The relationship with the analyst takes on the characteristics and tenor of the analysand’s fundamental fantasy…the analysand expects the analysts’s desire to coincide with the Other’s desire as he or she has always construed it.”Bruce Fink
An effective analyst, when faced with the analysand’s transference, seeks to shatter the client’s expectations. Thus, the effective analyst intentionally avoids actions that mimic those of the patient’s Parental Other. Over time, this enables the analysand to realize that the Parental Other is not, in fact, a substantial authority. With this knowledge, the patient is able to access their own desire, their own drive, and make their own decisions, finally detached from the impact these things may have on their relationship with the Other.
This new freedom ushers healthier thoughts, healthier behavior, and independent living.
Without analysis, or some form of therapeutic development which hastens autonomous living, individuals often repeat, in their relationships with friends and lovers, the dynamics of their relationships with the Parental Other. Unfortunately, in the case of hierarchical organizations, like businesses and religious communities, this can lead to the repetition and perpetuation of abuse.
I see it in my own life. In every new community, every new system, I found myself subject to persons of authority whose behavior mimicked that of my parents, which sustained the belief that I must think/act/be as they desired in order to be worthy of love.
I find that the lack of psychological awareness increases the likelihood of repeated abuse. In other words, when those who hold power lack knowledge regarding the function of transference, they establish themselves as substantial authorities over the lives of others. Feeling validated in this inequitable relationship structure, those in authority reinforce the beliefs of their subjects, which in turn, prevents subjects from critically analyzing their own trauma and finding healing and liberation.
What we need more than anything are public figures, representatives, community leaders, and influencers with awareness of transference, who commit to releasing subjects from the control of false authorities.
This is the goal of Peter Rollins via Pyrotheology. He strives to create communities that break the hold of the substantial Other, unshackling individuals for autonomous life. I am grateful to have found his community, and I make it my ambition to follow his lead and hopefully, awaken others to the freedom that is theirs to receive.