Social | Psychoanalytic | Work

In this podcast lecture, I try to explain the concept of transference, what it is not, and what it is (from a psychoanalytic perspective).

Show Notes

  1. Psychoanalysis is more interested in things (behaviors, patterns, desires, etc.) that don't work and less interested in things that do. Things like the unconscious, the return of the repressed, and drive objects.  
  2. The Unconscious is a part of you that has a mind of its own. 
  3. That mind is comprised of repressed desires, memories, affects (emotions), and other traumatic things. 
  4. When something is repressed, we are not aware of it, we don't know it is there, but it keeps on popping up in our lives (this is what Freud called the "return of the repressed"), kind of like a ghost that haunts us. 
  5. A name for a person with an unconscious is a subject
  6. Psychoanalysis can be described as the examination of / study of the relationship between a subject and their (drive) object
  7. We go after a drive object, but no matter how much of it we get, we want more. Drive objects are also excessive and transgressive
  8. Our desire for our drive object is one of those desires that is usually repressed. 
Transference | What it is not: 
Ok, with all that review out of the way, we will look at another thing that pops up in the lives of subjects. It is a word I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts you've heard before: Transference. 
However, even though you've heard this word before, I'm going to assume that you might not have heard it described in the psychoanalytic sense of the term. 
In the past, when I've taught about transference, I've asked students,
  • How would you define transference?
  • In your own words, tell me what transference is. 
  • Can anyone give me an example of transference? 
And every time I did this, people students said something like: Transference is when someone reminds you of someone else.   
While this may be how the word gets used by lots of people nowadays, that use of the term is (in my opinion) incorrect! It's wrong! And what I want to do now is tell you what the term transference means when someone who is a psychoanalyst (or someone who is well versed in psychoanalytic theory) uses the term. 
Transference | What it is:
  • Transference is an unconscious process. This means when someone is transferring, they don't know they're doing it! 
  • When we transfer, we are (unconsciously!) bringing something fairly specific from one relationship to another. 
  • The thing that is being (unconsciously!) transferred is a power dynamic. Specifically, we are turning someone into a parent. 
a) Into someone who knows what we want them to know. 
b) Into someone who can give us what we need/want if we only convince them.  
c) Into someone who we need to approve of us, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. 
d) Or into someone who we need to hide what we are doing from because we fear their disapproval. 

What is Social | Psychoanalytic | Work?

Lectures and instruction for SWK-6521 Advanced Clinical Social Work. A course in the MSW program at Aurora University.