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!