Finding Your Self: Transference – The Make Up of Our lives

A long extensive post of Transference, psychology view of our human condition, originally posted on an old blog of mine titled Finding Your Self, that is slowly being merged into this current blog. It mentions:

Snippets from Ernest Becker’s Denial of death, headers below:

Transference of Hate, Illness, and fetishism; Art of Control; The Neurotic and Schizophrenic Transference; Transference of Immortality;

And C. G. Jung’s view of transference:

The Make up of Transference; Loss of Connection with the Past; Characteristic of Childhood; The Question of Immortality; Neurotic Myth; How to Help the Undiscovered Self

Read the blog post slowly, maybe more than once. There’s a lot of information crammed into one post, but I hope it is interesting nonetheless.

Happy reading, stay true to YOU, and never stop discovering the mysteries of you.

Peace ❤


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Transference – The Make Up of Our Lives

The following information will be from The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker.

Transference is the “complete control over external circumstances… in all its variety and multiplicity of manifestation.” This is William V. Silverberg’s definition of it, found in The Denial of Death. I agree to this definition. I have had an urge to make a post that gives great detail and a variety of definitions to this term, but it all comes down to the same thing. We project our own emotions and thoughts onto others so that we can control the circumstance that we are in – we create our own illusion of reality. This is why I call Transference the make up of our lives – it is the make up of our external “illusionary” life that we present to the world daily. This means we resist reality daily – a true reality that is – that we do not want to see. So we create what we want by following leaders, or being the leader ourselves.

This brings on the question of ignorance. “We ask each other, why are most men blind and stupid?” Freud’s response to this question is as follows: “Because they demand illusions… they constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real.” Becker’s view on why we create our illusion of reality is because we are in the denial of our true nature – which is animal like. The world tells us that we aren’t as strong as we appear to be, and that there is death and decay. Most men fear these two objects because they know one day they will have to become them. First: death, Second: decay. This illusion of our reality helps us to think of our bodies as immortal, that we are important here on earth and have a purpose beyond other animals.

This illusion may be presented by our parents, but perfected once we interact with society beyond our families. This is where the creation of “groups” comes about, and every group has a leader: “The masses look to the leaders to give them just the untruth that they need; the leader continues the illusions that triumph over the castration complex and magnifies them into a truly heroic victory. Furthermore, he makes possible a new experience, the expression of forbidden impulses, secret wishes, and fantasies. In group behavior anything goes because the leader Okays it. It is like being an omnipotent infant again, encouraged by the parent to indulge oneself plentifully, or like being in psychoanalytic therapy where the analyst doesn’t censure you for anything you feel or think. In the group each man seems an omnipotent hero who can give full vent to his appetites under the approving eye of the father.” This shows the vulnerability of the human character.

We are vulnerable, the majority of us, because we “pull the world around our shoulders” as we try to grasp for protection and support, and at the same time trying to understand the little power we know we have. So, we project our problems onto a leader, someone who can take control and “resolve these matters” in a way that we, so we tell ourselves, could not. At the same time we do this the leader projects his own vulnerability: the inability to stand alone, his own fear of isolation. The same fear we all have. Becker states, “We must say that if there were not natural leaders possessing the magic of charisma, men would have to invent them, just as leaders must create followers if there are none available.” I will post more on this in a later post.

Inside we feel, at some point, a ping of emptiness and loneliness. This “alienation” is reflected through our projections: “In order to overcome his sense of inner emptiness and impotence, [man]… chooses an object onto whom he projects all his own human qualities: his love, intelligence, courage, etc. by submitting to this object, he feels in touch with his own qualities; he feels strong, wise, courageous, and secure. To lose the object means the danger of losing himself,” this is Erich Fromm’s point of view of transference. The Adlerian view: “[transference]… is basically a maneuver of tactic by which the patient seeks to perpetuate his familiar mode of existence that depends on a continuing attempt to divest himself of power and place it in the hands of the “Other.”” These three similar yet different points of view come down to the same thing: transference is “the basic problems of an organismic life, problems of power and control”. That is Becker’s way of saying the controlling (and opposing) the reality we see for our own fulfillment and expansion.

Transference of Hate, Illness, and fetishism

Transference helps us fix ourselves into the world and create targets for our emotions, even if they are negative and destructive. Hate and submission are ways we can establish our own “organismic footing”. Hate is a strong negative emotion that enlivens us more, which is why it is stronger in the weaker ego states (what some call the “weak minded” individual). Hate is a strong negative emotion – loves counter part. Once one accepts this emotion inside them, it is hard to get rid of because it creates archetypes (I’ll mention in another post) that have their own personalities that can easily control an individual if one lets them. I’ll expand on this at another time. Hate makes the object it is projected toward larger than it is; hate gives this object power. We need our own object to control, even if it is our own bodies.

The pains we feel, and the illnesses that are real or imaginary, gives us something to relate to, they keep us from slipping out of the world, from “bogging down in the desperation of complete loneliness and emptiness. In a word, illness is an object,” states Becker. “We transfer illness to our own body as if it were a friend on whom we can lean for strength or an enemy who threatens us with danger.” This makes us feel more real, gives us a purpose for being here on Earth in a body that doesn’t truly belong to us, but just a machine that we have to figure out how it works with the soul – it gives “a little purchase on our fate.”

Transference is a form of fetishism. We take our helplessness, guilt, and our conflicts and we “fix them to a spot in the environment.” By doing this we can create anything by projecting our cares onto the world. It’s our own cares that we focus on, that we form and mold into something of our created external reality. Carl Jung puts it this way, “…unless we prefer to be made fools of by our illusions, we shall, by carefully analyzing every fascination, extract from it a portion of our own personality, like a quintessence, and slowly come to recognize that we meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.” This statement is true because by projecting our cares to the world, we are projecting parts of ourselves, which we meet in the people we interact with daily – we attract what we project.

Art of Control

The transference object, according to Otto Rank, represents “the great biological forces of nature, to which the ego binds itself emotionally and which then form the essence of the human and his fate.” The child, according to this definition, then can control his fate. Power means power over life and death, and as a child we learn this “art of control”. This art of control is to conform in ways that one learns from childhood; we learn how to control the emotions we project. Some ways we do this are as such: “conciliate it if it becomes terrible; use it serenely for automatic daily activities. For this reason Andras Angyal could well say that transference is not an “emotional mistake” but the experience of the other as one’s whole world – just as the home actually is, for the child, his whole world.”

The above paragraph points out the many problems that the transference object poses. One, the child partly controls his fate in the larger picture, but that then becomes his new fate. This is done by the projection of our emotions. The child binds himself to one person to control his terror, “mediate wonder, and defeat the thought of death by the person’s strength.” This person (the parent or caregiver) then becomes his safety. On the other hand, he experiences the “Transference Terror”, the terror of losing the object, of not being able to live without it. He then becomes torn because “the terror of his own finitude and impotence still haunts him, but now in the precise form of the transference object.”

Since the transference object represents all of life, it also represents one’s fate. Since it controls our reality, it also hinders our freedom, which is why it becomes “the focus of the problem of one’s freedom.” It does this both in the positive and negative transference. In the negative transference, “the object becomes the focalization of terror.” It is also the source of much of our bitter memories of childhood and “our accusations of our parents.” This is why we blame them for our unhappiness; they were the ones who first introduced the art of control to us by conforming us to society and the reality they wanted us to be in. This is why we then “attempt to control our fate in an automatic way.”

The Neurotic and Schizophrenic Transference

Transference shows that we are all neurotic. Being neurotic is a distortion of reality by the “artificial fixation of it”. The more fear one has, and less power over the ego, the stronger the transference. This is how one becomes schizophrenic. In the schizophrenic transference the images of the unconscious come to the conscious mind, this happens to us all, but in the so-called schizophrenic these images take total control of the person’s life; the protective veil we place between the conscious and unconscious out of protection of our so-called sanity is lifted in the schizophrenic, and they have no way of controlling what they perceive. Even in “normal transference” we remain uncontrollably “glued to an object” such as: “all the power to cure the diseases of life, the ills of the world.” We all have our own illusions we follow, our own fantasy world we create for our own, just like the so-called neurotics and schizophrenics.

Transference of Immortality

It seems the more others have, the more it rubs off on us. Either we want what they have, and get it, or we just dream of it. We place certain people on pedestals, like celebrities, and aspire to be like them. This is part of us trying to be immortal by taking all we can from the material external world so that we can form and mold it the way we wish to. Rank says that “man is always hungry for his own immortalization.” This is seen in groups as well, which is why there is the “constant hung for heroes: Every group, however small or great, has, as such, an “individual” impulse for externalization, which manifests itself in the creation of and care for national, religious, and artistic heroes… the individual paves the way for this collective eternity impulse…”


The only way most of us have to overcome “the sense of helpless limitation inherent” in our real situation is to torture ourselves with dissatisfaction and constant self-criticism. “Dictators, revivalists, and sadists know that people like to be lashed with accusations of their own basic unworthiness because it reflects how they truly feel about themselves. The sadist doesn’t create a masochist; he finds him ready-made.” There is one way, though, to overcome “unworthiness” and that is to “idealize the self.” This is where the “complementary dialogue” with our selves comes about. According to Becker, we criticize ourselves because we “fall short of the heroic ideals [we] need to meet in order to be a really imposing creation.” This means, to me, that we fall short of the importance we create for ourselves and the obligations we think we should fulfill in our created reality.

We want the impossible: we want to lose our isolation and keep it at the same time; we cant stand “the sense of separateness” and yet we can’t allow the “complete suffocation of our vitality”; we want to expand by merging with “the powerful beyond” that transcends us, and yet we want, while merging with it, to remain “individual and aloof”, working out our own private and “small-scale self-expansion.” This is impossible to do, because we can’t merge in “the power of another thing” and develop our own personal power at the same time. It is one, or the other. One way we can get around this problem is this: “control the kind of beyond, the one in which you find it most natural to practice self-criticism and self-idealization. In other words, you try to keep your beyond safe.” This is the “fundamental use of transference” that Becker calls “transferences heroics” which is the practice of a “safe heroism.” In this we see the problem of transference and heroism. There is no one way of control. In order to “reach the great beyond” inside our selves, we have to let go of our control of this physical world, and that means getting rid of attachments.

2 thoughts on “Finding Your Self: Transference – The Make Up of Our lives

  1. Pingback: Finding your self – the very purpose of every human being. – Osholeela – an existential drama.

  2. Pingback: Finding Your Self: Archetype: Formation of the Collective Unconscious | Inside A Soul

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