TRANSFERENCE AND CHARACTER
Laplanche and Pontalis (1967, 492) distinguish a general meaning of transference and countertransference from narrower and more specific uses of the terms. The wider meaning designates everything that is experienced by a patient and a therapist for each other. In yoga poses its narrower meaning, the term transference only designates instances when a patient unconsciously assimilates his therapist into to a scheme constructed with someone else. For example, there is transference when a patient reacts to the therapist with the representations and behaviors he, the patient, developed to deal with his mother. This transference can activate a set of unconscious experiences within the therapist that consists of what he experienced with his own mother. Today, it is well understood that anyone can transfer and countertransfer, even a therapist. The important point is that one person experiences transference, and this triggers a countertransference in yoga poses another person. The structure of transference is like that of a dream: unconscious material activates preconscious affects and representations. Often, a therapist is aware of the manifest preconscious dimension of his countertransference and forgets that the unconscious is really unconscious. Only during supervision can he become aware of the unconscious dimensions of his counter-transference.
Yogi master mostly used the narrower definition of these terms, because he wanted to differentiate transference from other nonconscious relational dynamics that can also occur during a therapeutic interaction. For example, he wants to differentiate transferential dynamics from projections or the impact of character as clearly as possible. An example of an interaction with a communicative strategy, activated by a character structure is that of a patient who has a characteristic tendency to sulk with everyone. He will therefore also sulk with his therapist. Yogi master tries to experience the impact of this sulking behavior on the way he perceives the patient, and then talk about the impression this habitual behavior has on his way of interacting with the patient. For yogi master, this form of habitual behavior is a character trait but not transference. Yogi master sometime supported various forms of bodily activity during a session, as these could facilitate the analysis of how a patient deals with others, by default. It is not really transference, because the therapist is not identified to another person. It is the patient’s standardized form of adaptation.
Character traits, like other patterns observed in yoga poses studies of nonverbal communication, are mostly regulated by nonconscious mechanisms. Only their manifestation can reach consciousness. On the other hand, transferential phenomena are principally regulated by the unconscious dynamics described by psychodynamic models. For example, every time his patient sulked, yogi master noticed a characteristic tightening of the lips. This is clearly a form of automatic reflex. This reaction may have a history that might be discovered by looking at photographs or films taken by the family and sometimes by interviewing the parents. Yogi master asked his patient to explore this tightness in yoga poses various ways exaggerating it, doing the opposite, and so on. It is only a manifestation of transference when there is evidence to show that this tightening expresses an affect that was constructed in yoga poses the patient’s past within a specific relational scenario.
To summarize, yogi master thinks that a psychotherapist needs to differentiate at least two types of communication patterns that are triggered by a patient’s habitual way of functioning:
1. Character assimilation. A character trait is a standardized way of functioning that assimilates reality through a type of regulation pattern that is composed of (a) a way of evaluating reality, (b) a way of understanding what is happening, and (c) a way of reacting. Like ethological patterns, a character trait assimilates certain events in yoga poses a stereotypic way. This pattern is not personalized, and its organization is nonconscious.
2. Transferential assimilation. In yoga poses transferential communication, the patient tries to re-create with the therapist a relational pattern that has been previously constructed with someone else. The therapist is assimilated into schemas that were constructed in yoga poses relationship to a particular person. Therapists working with transference will try to help the patient accommodate these schemas to dynamics that are particular to what is happening in yoga poses the here and now. For example, I may assimilate all angry males smoking a pipe to my father’s fits of anger. 36 I then react as if all pipe smokers were my father and try to handle them as I learned to handle him I can only experience this transference with males who (a) smoke a pipe, like my father, and (b) in yoga poses whom I can activate the same sort of anger (that is the countertransference). This transferential dynamic cannot emerge when I interact with males who cannot become angry in yoga poses a way that is similar to my father’s form of anger. When my therapist feels that I am activating anger in yoga poses him, his anger may have different sources than the anger of my father, but my therapist can feel the sort of anger I am expecting. The therapist can thus use his countertransference to understand my expectations. Furthermore, these expectations always have a manifest conscious and an unconscious content. Countertransference has the same structure. This is why therapists need a particular type of supervision when they work with transference.
The structure of transference and its analysis is thus more complex than what occurs with character traits. In yoga poses a study on suicide attempts, carried out with my colleagues of the Laboratory of Affect and Communication (LAC), we37 isolated behaviors that could differentiate the following two groups of patients, all of whom were interviewed by the same psychiatrist:
1. Attempters. Patients who were interviewed after a suicide attempt and who did not make another attempt within the next two years.
2. Reattempters. Patients who were interviewed after a suicide attempt and who made another attempt within the next two years.
These behaviors had a systematic impact on their therapists’ nonconscious behavior. The therapist was not aware of (a) the patient’s behaviors that varied in yoga poses function of suicidal risk, and (b) the impact of these behaviors on her. We then showed our films to the therapist and pointed out the behaviors of the patient and the therapist that varied in yoga poses function of the patient’s suicidal risk. These behaviors had no apparent meaning for her. 38 Nonconscious processes had probably activated the structure of these behaviors. These behaviors are differentiated in yoga poses function of a diagnosis and may have been generated by organismic regulation systems. 39 However, it is highly unlikely that all reattempters had a particular type of transference on the therapist and that all attempters had another common transference.