Erotic Transference 

Yesterday T mentioned something about erotic transference and said that I might experience this. I looked at her as though she was talking another language.

Why would I have erotic feelings towards her? a woman when I am straight?

Then I panicked that she might think I was defending myself too much and tried to calm down the shock that was clearly radiating off of me.  Agghhhh! (the problems of allowing yourself to be analysed!).

She explained to me that erotic transference is a perfectly normal part of the process for some people and that it is nothing to be scared of. I said that I’ve read about it, but it isn’t something I’ve felt and said that I can’t imagine I would. I told her that I thought erotic transference only applied to male/female therapist and patient but it appears not.

T explained to me that erotic transference actually stems from infantile feelings of desire. Being seen, heard, held, accepted, soothed etc, but that because we are adults we view the feelings as being adult sexual feelings, rather than the innocent “love” feelings that a child would have.

I’ve done some research on this today and from what I have understood, it’s the intoxication of finally feeling noticed and understood instead of feeling rejected – which is what a lot of us in psychotherapy have felt our whole lives. That feeling becomes addictive and we want more – we feel special to our therapist and we want them for ourselves. We don’t want to share them with other clients or with their family and that “love” can lead to the erotic transference mentioned above.  Apparently it is the desire in you for love in general – not actually the person who is giving you the love and that is what you work through in therapy when/if erotic transference takes place.

T said that if this happens, I should just “enjoy” the feeling and not be scared by it.  The first thought I had when she said this to me was “wow, that must be super weird for you”.  Knowing her clients might have (what they deem) as sexual feelings towards her… that would creep me the f out!  I guess that is one of many reasons I am this side of the couch!

Then T said something which has stuck with me ever since.

I think it is highly likely you will experience this given the way your therapy is going”.

The way my therapy is going? How is my therapy going? What does that mean?

The insecure part of me has decided that she thinks I am hopelessly insecure – highly attached in a way that I shouldn’t be and all other sorts of negative things.

The adult part of me is trying to wrestle with the child part to say that as I’ve just said, heard and read, this is normal. It is part of the process which many other people go through. Still, it stings a little bit and I hate that because it makes me feel immature.

It has taken me nearly 3 years to accept that I need her. To accept that I am attached to her and that she helps to regulate me.  The thought of being sexually attracted to her – of having any kind of fantasy about wanting to be sexual with her makes me feel VERY uncomfortable. I don’t want that to happen. I see her as my replacement (better) “good mother” nothing else.

T said to me that it depends on “where the injury first took place”.  I asked her what age she thought that was for me and she said she thought right back to the womb.  She said this is why she thinks it is more likely that I will experience this because back then, you should experience things like being cradled in the safety of the womb, being born and having your mother stare happily into your eyes as she feeds you, smiling at you because you are a wonderful creation.  But if you don’t experience these lovely things, you have unconscious feelings and intense longings which you think you can have met with the therapist, but you think these unconscious needs are sexual desires.

 

Isn’t it odd that I can understand this on a logical level but still not accept its probability, or possibility, within my own therapy? Perhaps I am being overly defensive after all!

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18 thoughts on “Erotic Transference 

  1. “the way your therapy is going” – to me, it seems like she meant something along the lines of how you made progress in therapy and that the therapy is going well overall. Being able to talk about erotic transference is a big step forward, even though I’m not entirely convinced if it’s because of something which you experienced in the “womb”. ‘Cause like how the hell does the brain/mind even register things which happened pre-birth? And connect this to erotic transference? lol sorry, but sounds like total rubbish to me. Just my 2 cents.

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    1. I guess she could have done – I kinda read it like “the way you are so needy” hahah!!

      Re the whole womb thing – I understand that opinion. I did feel the same but she has spent 3 years talking to me about things that are “pre-verbal” and how things are relayed to the baby (don’t ask me how) right back to being in the womb and being fed and mirrored accurately etc. I don’t understand it enough to argue the point either way really! x

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      1. Ahah yea, I get your point of view also 🙂

        Well ok, like I understand how there can be a link between the “pre-verbal” stage and things which develop afterwards. I’m just wondering, what about all the other things which happened in your life afterwards? Like childhood, adolescence, young adulthood. These probably had a huge impact on how/who you are today, along with those feelings of transference.

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      2. Oh god, of course! I actually think of the bad stuff in very early life is repaired adequately, you would have the problems. I mean that’s half the point of therapy now isn’t it? To sort out your attachments and stuff via a “good enough” attachment. So I agree! But in my case for example, it was never repaired at any point, baby, infant, child, adult… x

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  2. Erm… well, I don’t know if I agree. My trauma was from birth and I’ve been in therapy now over 7 years and I’ve never ever had sexual feelings towards my female therapist. Ever.

    The only inappropriate sexual feelings I have are occasionally directed towards my male doctor, and only ever when I feel like I’ve been bad or difficult – which I know is caused by my sexual abuse background.

    I don’t think you need to assume this definitely will happen and I think I feel a bit weirded out that your therapist thinks it is a certainty too!

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  3. Woah…. I would have died of embarrassment. It sounds like she’s just trying to forewarn and also normalise it for you, should it occur, which is so awesome of her. I don’t think it’s “highly likely” to happen even given the womb/infant trauma. I have similar wounds and I have never felt erotic transference for any of my therapists. Strong maternal transference yes! Even a couple of shady baby dreams of being in her arms (#awkward!) but nothing overtly sexual. That’s not to say it will never happen, who knows what feelings will occur as I uncover all the layers of my trauma. But I hope it doesn’t lol

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  4. Like Pfl said, I also find it weird (and uncomfortable) that she told you that. It seems to me like planting a seed in your head. She could discuss it when and IF it happens, but there really was no need to tell you about when she did. It sounds a little strange.

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  5. It’s refreshing to see that your therapist has talked this through with you – though I’m no expert like she is I’d say that doesn’t necessarily mean it WILL happen. If it does then at least you know more about it and can talk openly with her which is great. Totally relate to what she said about problems stemming from the womb x

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    1. Hi! Thank you. I agree. On reflection she’s doing the right thing in talking to me because it will feel less scary than it is now… but, I still hope it doesn’t happen.

      The womb stuff is hard to articulate for me but I think I’m starting to understand x

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  6. It is suprising that your therapist made a point of mentioning it. Eroticism transference is very common though. I’ve experienced it myself with male clinicians and I always say to my husband that I love my therapist (who is female) I think I’d you’ve gone through sexual abuse any feelings of emotional attachment become tinged with sexuality to some degree because sex was always included as a part of loving bonds. However I don’t have fantasies of actual sexual contact with her (but maybe that is just because she’s old?!) I have had two therapist’s who were young and pretty and I would think they were attractive, but not wanna do anything about it 😜 Is your therapist psychodynamic in training? She sounds it…very Freudian.

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    1. Mmm maybe that’s why she said it. I did go trough sexual abuse when I was younger, but by a man – maybe that could still confuse the attachment and sexual stuff like you say… but with a woman like her who I view as a mother, then I can’t imagine it. Who knows!

      Yeah I think so, she has often spoken to me about the psychosexual stages and things like Oedipus and stuff so I’ve always thought Freudian, but she did once say she trained another way – can’t remember what now, and she now likes to use all different styles except cbt x

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  7. I started having sexual feelings towards my therapist a few weeks ago. It was startling and jarring, but she normalized it and was very tender and compassionate. It’s still quite scary and I get overwhelmed at times, but I get the sense that she’s rather pleased that I’ve been able to identify and acknowledge the sexual feelings because, as you so eloquently stated, it’s about that initial profound need for unconditional love and attunement. Something I did not get and have yet to fully grieve.

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    1. Wow well firstly let me say how courageous I think you are for even being able to admit that to yourself yet alone your T. I honestly and genuinely think that is so brave!!! I’m not surprised it was starling I would have shat myself?!! I am so glad you’ve taken some comfort from what my T said enough to hopefully neutralise it or explain it to you enough to not feel anything too negative. I bet she is very pleased it shows that you are attaching to her how you need to and you have the chance now to do this with someone who will not blur the boundaries. It is safe. Its explainable and as you already know, about attunement that you needed and need and deserved and deserve. My T told me to try and relax and enjoys this because it will pass and you won’t always feel like this so don’t worry about any shame or embarrassment you might feel xx

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