I’m basically a beat down grunt that’s trying to learn some medicine these days. My definitions of psychological principles are worth nearly what you paid me for them. Bearing that always in mind, here are some basic definitions:
Unconsciously transferring feelings experienced earlier in life to an object encountered later in life because the two objects are similar.
Me – I fucking hate horses. When I was a kid, a horse stepped on my toe and broke it. I can barely remember the actual incident, but I sure as hell know I hate those dumb goddamned animals. Probably as a result, I dislike camels. Those long faced, humpy pieces of shit are too close to horses for any sane person’s (by that I mean me, of course) comfort. That is transference. I hate horses, camels are pretty close, so I hate those sons-of-bitches too.
I sometimes dream of owning a horse ranch, but instead of letting little kids ride the horses on the weekends and stuff, I’d just make a fortune in cat food. I’d also teach courses on long distance precision marksmanship with camels as targets, and I’d die a happy man.
I don’t do so well with girls who like ponies, and I don’t fucking want to, either. They are infatuated with my equine enemies, and are treated like the traitors they are.
This one’s a bit stickier. It typically refers to the interaction between a therapist and a patient. Basically, the therapist feels certain emotions based on the emotions of their patient. The therapist’s emotions are usually tied into the therapist’s own past, and aren’t necessarily relevant to the situation being discussed with the patient.
If you try and look this one up on the googlebox, you’re going to get bogged down in a bunch of psychological mumbo-jumbo. Since Siggy Freud coined this term, anybody who’s a Jung fanboy is going to have a conniption fit, and you might get dragged into an argument about which dead brain-shrinker’s dick is bigger.
Who cares about all that? Not me.
Here’s what I’ve noticed, and how I use my street-level definitions:
Most people you interact with evoke some feelings in you. The feelings aren’t usually all that strong – a general happiness if you like the person, or some mild distaste or even dread if the person’s a pain in the ass. Now, once in awhile, you get some really strong feelings that motivate you to do something when you encounter a person. The mere fact that you had these strong feelings in an otherwise routine interaction is the key to start paying close attention. You need to kick up into Condition Yellow, or even Condition Red. Your radar is telling you something. Why?
Here’s another example from my own past experience:
If I talk to two different women about normal stuff for five minutes – different times, different venues, with both women being equally attractive – I’ll come away being really attracted to one of them.
Here’s what I know:
The woman who I’m really attracted to has problems. She’s got a coke habit, sexual abuse issues, an eating disorder – something like that. The women and I won’t talk about that stuff, but my subconscious has picked up on certain patterns and mannerisms. Those subtle cues have rung the fire-bell hanging on the wall where my own personal White Knight hangs out. That bastard starts polishing up his rusty armor and looking around for his sword. He’s gonna go rescue this chick from herself, and he starts conspiring with my limbic system to make me attracted to her.
See? The gal with problems acts a certain, subtle way. Subconsciously, she’s broadcasting her pain/problems out into the world. Because of certain experiences I’ve had/the way I was raised, my antennae are very sensitive to certain signals. Because of those signals, I feel certain things – attraction, the need to rescue, the need to “be there”, etc.
I’ve just been countertransferenced!
For whatever reason, I was a rescuer. I’m initially attracted to people I think I can help. After a few disastrous relationships, I’ve learned to look at that initial extreme attraction with a very skeptical glance. I learned that my “girl picker” was broken. If I act on that initial extreme attraction, before long I’m going to be looking up various support groups for my girlfriend, or even having her drug dealer ex-boyfriend try and stab me in a parking lot after work (yes, that actually happened).
More people ought to do this kind of analysis about the people they’re attracted to. If the new person makes you feel exactly like the person in the last five shitty relationships did at first – well, there’s probably something to that. Start looking for patterns. Don’t just dive in to those feelings. Sure, enjoy them, but realize those feelings are there for a reason, and those feelings signify something important. Just because the feelings are good doesn’t mean you’re going to end up happy, either – don’t confuse the two.
Don’t get too wrapped up in my examples. I used to be Sergeant Save-A-Ho, and maybe you laugh at guys like that. No worries – I don’t care. Just don’t overlook your own patterns. Every guy has a “type”, and physical appearance isn’t always the biggest part of that. What is yours? Think back to girls you instantly were attracted to – what did they have in common? Upbringing? No gag reflex? Lots of brothers? Slutty, but hiding it?
By mastering, then monitoring your countertransference radar, you can learn things about people they don’t want you to know. That information will help guide your course, and keep you efficient in your efforts. It takes some effort and thought to get this kind of working knowlege of how your subconcious works. I assure you it’s very worth the effort.