A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

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Page Contents: How a psychotherapist obstructed treatment for erotic transference.                    


I become obsessed about my therapist. I got in love sexually (in my fantasy) to my therapist, I am jealous that she have a husband and I am obsessed that she have sex probably with him everyday and I am searching for some answers. She is older than me, 18 years older, but she looks nice and younger. I am 26 years old man. Strangely everything happened when she revealed she have a family and husband.

My therapist looked like codependent, but nice looking women from my first impression. She is a good, educated, gentle person. First I have felt just friendliness and good chemistry. When she said she a have a husband, who is [deleted for confidentiality] businessman and they moved to [deleted for confidentiality], because of problems I became afraid. Maybe [deleted for confidentiality] stereotypes made me worry, because I am from East Europe. Probably it’s the main reason, I fear that she chose abusive and powerful man over me, who acting bad with her, but she still loves him. That's how I feel over my subconscious. That she betrayed me. I want to defend her in my mind, I worry that man using her, but at the same time I feel angry at her, that she is good women, but looking for a bad boys. And I am like in a second plan. That’s my interpretations, I don’t know her life. But that’s how I feel. It seems I have attracted her in my therapy, I just don't know if it’s my own projections. But subconscious is powerful, you still can attract people like that even in therapy. Some details what she revealed, shocked me up, but me. She have never thought I could react like that over some details. It seemed I was waiting for that, for words like businessman, [deleted for confidentiality], they moved because of problems from their country, because of business.

When I thought she was living alone, I was more comfortable. I’ve never thought I could be in that awkward situation, but this is how I feel, I can’t stop my feelings, fear of abandonment, inferiority, not in her level or attractive, that her husband is better than me, having her every night, jealousy, that they are successful, she is happy, that she look everywhere sexually, but not in me and that they having sex every night. I feel so tragic, despair, left and abandonment, like a wolf who is shouting alone in a night. It seems life is a party around you and you are out of life board, removed from human race and pleasure. The feeling you don’t belong, you not like “us”, advanced and successful.

I believe something here comes from my family origin and she somewhat maybe reminds my mother (but I don’t feel consciously), probably when you are afraid that your father takes all attention and your codependent mother gives love for him. You feel unloved and in some ways you helplessly trying to be like your father. In simple words I feel enmeshed with my therapist over these issues and it’s like addicted love, give me love over "him" obsession and cause of this raising inferiority and sense of devaluation.

I am obsessed that she (therapist) have a successful bully, who was bullying me and humiliated in streets or school. That’s why I am so probably insecure, inferior about this situation and this sparks some kind of despair. She is with my enemy in my mind, while I am thinking about her. You see she represents so many transferences at once, that I am even confused. But at the end of the day, between my conflicts I believe there is real sympathy between those transferences, each part of me or inner child or closed in a box adult (with jealousy) represents something different and I am even not capable to understand where is addicted love and where is true sympathy in the whole picture and what part each of them represents my issues. Neurotic people have many conflicts like Karen Horney, a German psychoanalyst have told and they are I do believe in the core of abandonment, toxic shame family origins.

From her I got to understand my issues, that I have emotional abandonment - toxic shame from mother, my father left physically at 15 years old after divorce, so I was living pretty alone. Now I see the consequences, after many depression relapses and finally bipolar 2 misdiagnosis. I am way better, almost no medications. But wound pain is obvious now. I am afraid that some therapists saying that abandonment is like diabetes and not curable. But I see how it affecting me. I am feeling closed like in a box with my potential. I see the inner conflict between my inner child and adult me. And how they are screaming for love for my therapist. Adult saying to her “hey I am there, just see me, I am just closed in a box, I must be in your husband place”. But she don’t see that part. She see probably wounded grown child, who is codependent, takes all the spot and asking for helpless love. She don’t feel attraction for me, just human love. I am so devastated. I am so jealous that she give her all to her husband.

The thing is she look at transference a bit more open minded and not going into labels so fast. Now I understood her, maybe she is right, cause its very complex thing. Transfers happening everywhere, not only in therapy. So I am thinking where is true feeling “here and now”, normal attraction, like for a women (why not, she is cute) and where a part plays transference, cause I do believe I really like her, she is my taste, my intuition saying that and healthy part, adult (real potential) “closed in a box”. But another part as you see is really transference. She (therapist) reactivates all my wounds, fears and insecurities. You see its very confusing. Its not that easy as it can look. I am balancing between conflicts.

I wanted to ask can I go further to therapy, cause it seems her life is making me devastating, cause she don't feel attraction for me, paradoxically after such a help and progress over 1 year in therapy. Now I see the real contrast, real wounds what she represents, she have more positive energy and vibe and that is affecting me. Maybe I need another therapist who was more crushed by life that I could feel comfortable? Or I need this contrast and pain? It seems I attracted her to my life, difference now just only in therapy, again to be abandonment and relive it. I feel embarrassed cause my life is different, I feel empty and alone, not powerful and successful. I am jealous because she is happy, jealous of her life, because deep down I feel that I deserve that life (in symbol way to express my potential). I deserve her, I know it. It seems she represents and ignites my potential, wounds and subconsciously I am afraid of her energy, its the same like fear of intimacy. So I sabotage myself and control that energy or aura like codependent, instead of accepting it. Because subconsciously I am not worthy of it. Also controlling is fear of abandonment symptom.

My erotic transference she took okay, even though it was very very hard to tell about her husband and how I am jealous that they have sex. But she thinks I really feel sympathy for her, naturally, till now. But later we will see.

P.S. I understand that success, good life, just hides behind symbols, that represents warmness, togetherness what you lack, your locked power and potential, cause not all people activate that in you, some people can be rich or happy, but you feel nothing, even happiness for them. Probably my therapist reminds me abandonment or rejection from some people in my past that I was too bad for her. When she told she don’t feel attraction for me, I don’t remember when I was so crying, half and hour and so desperately loud.

T he physical and emotional abandonment that you experienced in childhood has caused deep psychological wounds in you, and so you are to be commended for seeking psychotherapy to heal those wounds. Nevertheless, resistance to doing that work will always manifest for everyone, in some way; in your case, your focus on your psychotherapist as a woman is a manifestation of resistance. By focusing on the “woman,” you are unconsciously seeking to soothe your feelings of abandonment through fantasies of sexuality with your psychotherapist, and you unconsciously act out your anger at your father through fantasies of envy for your psychotherapist’s husband. As long as you stay in this imaginary place you will not find any psychological healing. Hence by preoccupying yourself with fantasies of sexuality you prevent the psychotherapy from progressing. And that’s what resistance to the treatment is.

Now, from what you have told me, you have done the right thing to bring a discussion of this resistance into the psychotherapy. You understand the way transference happens. Sadly, your psychotherapist has failed as a psychotherapist. When you told her of your feelings for her, she responded by saying she had no interest in you. In her response, she was speaking as a woman, not as a psychotherapist. By speaking as a woman, she abandoned you and consequently reactivated the wounds of your childhood abandonment. In doing this, she cheated you of the ability to “go further” in psychotherapy and heal the wounds of your childhood abandonment. That’s why you are angry. And in your anger you fell back into your old defenses of shame and self-blame to punish yourself for getting abandoned.

So why did your psychotherapist fail you? Well, just as any individual has a resistance to facing the truth of his or her own emotional pain, our culture has a collective resistance to facing the truth of human brokenness and vulnerability. We have all been duped into believing that sexuality is necessary for human happiness, and all around us—television, movies, music, advertising, and social networking—the lie is being propagated. But the truth can never be suppressed. The pain of abandonment in childhood cannot be gotten rid of with a sexual relationship. But it seems that your psychotherapist does not understand that fact; she has been duped herself by our culture, and so she cannot help you extricate yourself from the cultural lies that have entangled you.

Although your psychotherapist has been duped by our culture, your mind may not yet be capable of understanding the profundity of that fact. In fact, that’s the metaphorical base for the symptoms of bipolar disorder: feeling oppressed by the culture itself (the “Other” in Lacan’s terminology) you could not see the oppression for what it was, so you unconsciously looked for it in tangible ways; that is, in other people and things you could control. That’s why your psychotherapist’s husband became such a powerful signifier for you. In your mind, he became the reason for your psychotherapist’s insecurity; he was the bully afflicting her.

Therefore, your “sympathy” for your psychotherapist is misplaced; it really is the sympathy you need to feel for yourself. To heal from childhood abandonment, it will be important that you “abandon” the idea that your emotional pain is a matter of your relationship with another person and instead to “adopt” the idea that you have been betrayed—and confused—by all the social fraud around you. If you think your role is to rescue others, you will always feel weak and inadequate, but if you realize that your purpose is to name fraud as fraud and free yourself from enmeshment in it, then you will find your true strength—a spiritual strength that values truth and real love.

So, even though your psychotherapist has helped you greatly so far, she can take you no further. You probably need another psychotherapist, one who can teach you that life is not a matter of whether anyone accepts you but that life is a matter of whether you accept your own unconscious and the truth that governs it.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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