A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

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Page Contents: When lust appears in psychotherapy.                    


I’m a woman who started psychodynamic psychotherapy two years ago with a woman who I guess is in her early sixties. I’m training as a psychotherapist. . . . my strongest issue is having been brought up by a mother with deep depression who wasn’t emotionally there for her children. It took ages for a transference to develop. A year ago I started to develop a very positive transference. I started to trust my therapist more and work on deep issues but I also got the feeling that my therapist was trying to encourage an erotic transference—the way she looked at me, interrupted what I was talking about to focus on our connection. She said several times that the relationship went beyond the consulting room, that we both had each other on our minds, talked about our closeness and things of that sort. I began to get strong emotional and erotic feelings. . . . My response was of absolute devastation that after having told me several times that she thought about me outside the sessions. . . . I came to the conclusion that she had been lying to me all along in order to encourage the transference and felt totally manipulated. When I’ve told her how angry I was her replies have always been defensive—that . . . we could meet by chance in a shop or elsewhere etc. The result of it all is that my trust has gone. Not only has it gone and been replaced by anger but also by terror. I have had terrifying experiences when she has tried to come close again—the last one was last week. She said I had to trust her and that night I had nightmares and woke up with the feeling that someone could pull up the sheet over my head, put their hand on my face and smother me. It’s the feeling almost of a baby having been carelessly dropped by the mother and now every time the mother comes close the baby shrieks out that there’s no way she’s going to allow herself to be carried for fear of being dropped again. I have discussed all this with her several times but get defensive replies and feel she is brushing the issue aside, as if not understanding why I can’t just move on. At the same time I wish I could trust her; I need so much to be able to trust her but what comes up in my dreams and images is the total opposite. I no longer know how to work on this—if I talk about it again I know I’ll end up feeling upset and spend the rest of the day upset. It’s come to the point that from several things she has said, I have the feeling that she’s angry at me for not letting her be a successful therapist, for not trusting her. At the same time she has power over me, but a power that I have sometimes felt like a black hole that could swallow me up. The whole issue is wearing me down and wearing me out.

When you were told “several times that the relationship went beyond the consulting room” you were being groomed in lust, not trained in psychotherapy.

Your best recourse is to find a real psychotherapist who can help you understand your proclivity to being seduced, because that impulse to seduction is an unconscious way to hide your fears of real love.

It will also be important to resolve this issue so that you can make sure you don’t do the same thing to your own clients that this so-called “therapist” has done to you. Lust, after all, only degrades mental health; it has no healing properties.

So stay away from this woman the way that a bat that has just flown out of hell stays away from hell.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco




A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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