man; but how do I deal with the feelings I have, the love I feel for him? There’s nothing I want more than to be with him. And yet, I realize it can’t happen. How do I deal with this? Thank you for your adi
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
It is common for patients to fall in love with their therapist. This is referred to as Transference. Transference means that feelings and events from the past, particularly those that were unresolved, are relived with new people in the present. We "transfer" the feelings and meanings we experienced, particularly with our parents, to an important person in the present.
Many people are embarrassed to discuss their sexual and romantic feelings toward their therapist because they believe that these thoughts and feelings are "inappropriate." In point of fact, transference feelings and thoughts, either of the romantic, sexual and even hateful types, are important to discuss with the therapist in order to sort out and resolve how unrealistic the feelings are. As Freud pointed out a very long time ago, he was never so handsome that he should be adored and desired by his patients. In other words, he knew he was dealing with transference.
Actually, the feelings and beliefs connected with love of the therapist have a lot to do with doubts we have about our selves. Knowing it is inappropriate to have sexual feelings towards the therapist really means that we believe that we are not loveable. We are convinced that if we were loveable the therapist would make love to us, the patient. So, you see, the problem is not that the therapist does not love us, the patient; but that we feel unlovable and always feared that we were not loved by our parents. Ultimately, the solution is to end our self hate and find an appropriate partner in the world outside of therapy.
Then, too, the sexual feelings harbored toward the therapist can mask or cover hateful feelings. What better way to destroy a therapist than to lure the practitioner into a sexual liaison? You see, even if there is no malpractice law suit against the therapist, he remains forever tainted or reduced by the patient’s seduction.
The bottom line is that it is important to talk about and understand these feelings and thoughts within the safety of psychotherapy. Just to repeat, the ultimate goal is to feel better about one’s self and to find the right partner in the outside world. Finding the right partner in the outside world is part of what defines Adulthood.