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Transference

Freud - Exploring the unconscious mind by Enrico

Freud – Exploring the unconscious mind by Enrico

For Sigmund Freud transference is a psychological dynamic where mostly unconscious ideas and feelings associated with past figures or events are displaced onto current figures or events, thereby distorting current relationships.

Charles Rycroft notes that Freud initially saw transference as inappropriate and an unfortunate aspect of the psychoanalytic relationship. But Freud later recognized it as an unavoidable and, in fact, useful aspect of psychoanalytic therapy.¹

While the narrow definition of transference refers to distortions generated by the patient and thrust onto the figure of the analyst, counter-transference refers to distortions created by the analyst and falsely attributed to the patient, these also based on past experiences.

C. G. Jung‘s view of transference emerged from the Freudian school but includes the concept of the collective unconscious and extends to the borders of the metaphysical.

For Jung, transference is positive and negative, making it a significant interpersonal factor among friends, coworkers, lovers, family and marriage partners. On the plus side, transference is a special type of projection that may link human beings in an almost mystical bond of meaning.²

English: Group photo in front of Clark Univers...

Group photo in front of Clark University Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi. Photo taken for Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts publication. (Wikipedia)

While at the extremes transference may exhilarate or enslave, according to Jung it is a natural dynamic in which the psyche strives for genuine individuality and wholeness. Jung calls this quest for individuality and wholeness the individuation process.

When projections are made conscious and stripped away, Jung believes individuals are faced with the task of relating in a more mature, realistic manner. This arguably is a never-ending process by virtue of our inherent human limitations.

In pop culture the idea of projection appears in Bruce Cockburn’s song “Tell the Universe” (2006):

You’ve been projecting your sh** at the world
Self-hatred tarted up as payback time
You can self destruct–that’s your right
But keep it to yourself if you don’t mind

Image via Tumblr

¹ A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 168.

² Today it’s becoming increasingly common to talk about other people’s “energy.” Some believe this can transfer and linger, especially from intimate contact like sex (See, for instance: https://38.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mczlk8Accw1qer5v4o1_1280.jpg. But the term “energy” might be misleading. Sensitive people might perceive not so much energy, but rather, a spiritual environment (technically called numinosity).

Related Posts » Future of an Illusion, Lévi-Bruhl (Lucien), Participation Mystique, Psychoid,  Syntonic Counter-Transference, Unconscious

 

 

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Idealism

17th century representation of the "third...

17th century representation of the "third eye" connection to the "higher worlds" by alchemist Robert Fludd (1691) via Wikipedia

Generally speaking, idealism is a philosophical standpoint that sees reality in terms of a mental construction independent of external stimuli, which do not really exist.

But the term is used in other contexts. For instance, religious idealism emphasizes the reality of consciousness and the illusory or impermanent nature of matter. And psychological idealism focuses on individual consciousness as the unavoidable interpreter of data.

In art, idealism is an arguably vague term that, among other things, refers to artworks more concerned about how the subject makes us feel or think, instead of trying to capture how it appears to the naked eye (which is realism).

As such, idealism art champions aesthetics over actuality, giving its works softer edges, less detail, contour and perhaps simpler colors than works of realism (which look more like photographic representations while following strict “rules” of painting).

In music, the Bach cantatas have been described in terms of idealism because the lyrics tell of Lutheran Christian worshipers, holding steadfast to their faith and thus repulsing the attacks and deceits of the devil.

The topic of idealism is so broad, however, that I refer readers to the following:

Related Posts » Nominalism, Realism