idealising transference Articles

Borderline Personality Disorder: Google-Stalking Your Therapist

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Is Google-stalking your therapist morally wrong, a self defeating masochistic exercise in futility, considered Borderline Personality Disordered behaviour or worse, or downright creepy, dangerous and illegal; or is it healthy curiosity and something everyone does but would not admit to – or perhaps all of the above?


Borderline Personality Disorder: Self-esteem vs Self Destruction

Monday, July 30th, 2012

BPD and self esteemThere is a saying in a self-help group I used to be in back in the eighties. When a “normal” person gets a flat tire, they call the Automobile Association. When someone with (what’s now known as BPD) gets a flat tire, they call the suicide hotline. There’s an awful lot of truth in that.

My goal recently has been to respond rather than react to what I perceive are excruciatingly provocative circumstances and situations. I want to think and act with grace and dignity, to deep breathe, turn around, walk away, move on, learn the lesson and get a life. This attitude has, in the past, kept me in relationships, out of the law courts, out of jail, out of psychiatric hospitals, in employment and in therapy (or life coaching as we are now doing).

No longer is my therapist my nurturing supporter, smothering me endlessly with loving/kindness, reassurances of never abandoning me and justifying my bad behaviour and lack of social skills as a result of my environment. We have a more pragmatic egalitarian relationship where I feel mentored, rather than mental.


Borderline Personality Disorder: Is Your Therapist Dogged by a Dark Side?

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

At my last therapy session my therapist turned into a savage rottweiler; baring her sharp teeth at me, picking me up by the scruff of my neck and shaking the living daylights out of me. The doggone woman deliberately picked a fight about nothing, provoked me into a snarling row, called me a liar and then threatened to sue me for slander.

Interpretation of unfolding events is always a personal perception. I have been seeing her again for some workplace issues that need resolving. I was having problems accepting constructive criticism from the top dog in my organization. I found I was getting deeply triggered when told I was not achieving what I was supposed to achieve in the way she wanted it achieved and I was getting my feathers ruffled in a big way, getting upset, huffy and resolving the issue by fleeing or freezing.

So when within five minutes of arriving, my barking mad therapist activated every button on my panel and almost blew us both up, I almost called her a bitch, walked out the door and planned on brooding, ruminating and plotting impotent revenge against her for the rest of my natural life. Talk about an idealizing transference killer.


Borderline Personality Disorder: Erotic Transference

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Ahh, the Erotic Transference!  The question is do we want to have sex with our therapist because of a deep-seated oedipal complex, primary attachment gone tragically awry, a pre-verbal object relationship that cannot be unified or do we simply want to shag an attractive, empathic person who sets our genitals on fire?

Much psychological literature is written by Sheldon Cooper types (The Big Bang Theory) who are socially autistic or have Asperger’s syndrome and are desperately trying to quantify the unquantifiable by using terms such as “erotic transference” instead of “lust or love” because by using wholly scientific terms it distances themselves from their own primal and lustful urges.  That is why Amy Farrah Fowler (Sheldon’s girlfriend) cannot understand these sinful longings she gets when she is around men.  It greatly distresses and frustrates her.

Admitting you have sexual feelings for your therapist to your therapist can create shame and disgust. We are all sexual beings, it’s how we relate beneath the superficial veneer of expected manners and mores of society. 


Borderline Personality Disorder: What’s Love Got to Do With it?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

At what point in therapy should an experienced therapist tell a long-term client with a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis, in an unsolicited manner, that they love them?

This is what my therapist said at the last session I had with her.  I do love you.

It was a major catalyst, amongst other things, for my decision to leave therapy back in April.  Our email relationship limped along for few months until I finally pulled the pin.  That occurred this morning.

The overwhelming sense of freedom, relief and empowerment is tinged with much sadness, grief, loss and longing.  I loved her dearly and she said she loved me, but only in the context of a therapy client within her four walls.  It was not a marriage proposal and we are not going to walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after in a house with a white picket fence.

I can live with that.  Finally.


How Well Do You Know Your Therapist?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

When I found out my clinical psychologist barracked for the Fremantle Dockers, I could not have been more surprised than if she’d pushed up the arm of her shirt to reveal a Southern Cross tattoo.  In Australia AFL Aussie Rules football and the Southern Cross is as Australian to us as baseball and the Stars and Stripes is to Americans.

So just how well do we know our therapists?  Not very well at all, I think we’d be surprised if we got to know them well, after all isn’t it the not-knowing mystique about them that is so alluring?  The only reason I know she loves football and sits on a cold concrete bench in the middle of winter braving the elements and waving a purple, red and green scarf is because I once saw a sticker on the back of her car.  She did tell me that she also has active facebook and twitter accounts.

I had imagined her more as an arty-farty literati museum and art gallery type (aren’t all psychologists) and not a footy and facebook fan.  It is cognitively dissonant to think of her screaming for her team whilst updating her status rather than reading esoteric poetry with glasses perched on the end of her nose and a crocheted rug over her lap in front of a roaring fire.  Or standing up holding an artists palette in front of a canvas and painting an award winning piece of abstract art, or perhaps reading Hemingway or Dickens (and actually enjoying them), or stitching a complicated intricately patterned tapestry, or better still, writing long wordy articles for peer reviewed psychology journals and avidly writing the self-help book she has been planning to ever since I met her (which is now 15 years and counting – and no book in sight). 


May The Transference Be With You

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Transference can be the duct tape that binds the psychotherapy universe together.

One of the interpretations of my mostly positive, idealizing transference was to use my therapist as a role model. This is similar to Social Learning Theory where people can learn new behavior through reinforcement, punishment and observational learning and are then more likely to model, imitate, and adopt the behavior themselves. This occurs through four stages; close contact, imitation of superiors, understanding of concepts and role model behaviour.

Albert Bandura, expanding on this theory, studied patterns of behaviour associated with aggression by conducting the Bobo doll experiment in 1961. Seventy-two 3-6 year olds were divided into two groups. Two thirds were placed in a room with an adult and Bobo the doll where the adult hit and kicked the doll and the other third was placed in a control group. In a nutshell, Bandura found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act out in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model.

So if in therapy I am exposed to someone who deals with life by displaying good manners and an unruffled aura in a situation where appalling manners and a decidedly undignified process of behaviour is apparent; then by the wisdom of social learning theory, good role model behaviour by my therapist will begat new thought processes, schemas, beliefs and behavioural patterns by me, the emotionally-dysregulated client. A classic case of monkey see, monkey do.

For me, mirroring this process was at first largely unconscious in the real world until I related the stories in therapy and realised I had well and truly kept my wits and composure about me. Similar situations would then compound on themselves. As well my therapist would tell me personal stories of adverse situations where clarity and coolheadedness were required. In a similar situation where I would explode, burn my bridges and later have serious regrets, she would be able to stay calm, centred and (most importantly) in control – move on, regret nothing and remain the person she always was.

When I deliberately started to imitate her behaviour, after a …


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