⌬ Podcast Lecture № 4 | Transference

⌬ Podcast Lecture  № 4 | Transference
Photo by Killian Cartignies / Unsplash

Hey all. Below are the notes for the fourth installment of podcast lectures I'm recording for a class I'll be teaching this coming fall. The topic of this podcast lecture is transference. If you listen to the lecture, you will hear that I'm not reading the notes verbatim. I'm using the notes as a guide.  

I've found that writing down what I think I want to say and then reading that with ad-libs thrown in when I want to is what works best for me when I record a podcast on a specific topic.

  • Writing things down ahead of time forces me to organize my thoughts.
  • Then, when I read what I've written during recording, I can do on-the-fly changes that I think make the final product sound not-scripted.

Anyway, here it is:

Hi there, and welcome to the fourth podcast lecture for this class. The topic for this lecture is going to be the concept of transference. But first, let's do a review of what we have covered so far.


  1. Psychoanalysis is more interested in things (behaviors, patterns, desires, etc.) that don't work and less interested in things that do. Things like the unconscious, the return of the repressed, and drive objects.  
  2. The Unconscious is a part of you that has a mind of its own.
  3. That mind is comprised of repressed desires, memories, affects (emotions), and other traumatic things.
  4. When something is repressed, we are not aware of it, we don't know it is there, but it keeps on popping up in our lives (this is what Freud called the "return of the repressed"), kind of like a ghost that haunts us.
  5. A name for a person with an unconscious is a subject.
  6. Psychoanalysis can be described as the examination of / study of the relationship between a subject and their (drive) object.
  7. We go after a drive object, but we want more no matter how much of it we get. Drive objects are also excessive and transgressive.
  8. Our desire for our drive object is one of those desires that is usually repressed.

Transference | What it is not:

Ok, with all that review out of the way, we will look at another thing that pops up in the lives of subjects. It is a word I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts you've heard before: Transference.

However, even though you've heard this word before, I'm going to assume that you might not have heard it described in the psychoanalytic sense of the term.

In the past, when I've taught about transference, I've asked students,

  • How would you define transference?
  • In your own words, tell me what transference is.
  • Can anyone give me an example of transference?

And every time I did this, people students said something like: Transference is when someone reminds you of someone else.  

While this may be how the word gets used by lots of people nowadays, that use of the term is (in my opinion) incorrect! It's wrong! And what I want to do now is tell you what the term transference means when someone who is a psychoanalyst (or someone who is well versed in psychoanalytic theory) uses the term.

Transference | What it is:

  • Transference is an unconscious process. This means when someone is transferring, they don't know they're doing it!
  • When we transfer, we are (unconsciously!) bringing something fairly specific from one relationship to another.
  • The thing that is being (unconsciously!) transferred is a power dynamic. Specifically, we are turning someone into a parent.

a) Into someone who knows what we want them to know.

b) Into someone who can give us what we need/want if we only convince them.  

c) Into someone we need to approve of us, what we are doing, and why we are doing it.

d) Or into someone who we need to hide what we are doing from because we fear their disapproval.

In the end, it is important to remember transference is a fantasy, an unconscious fantasy, a fantasy that the person we are transferring onto can give us what we need/want, and will give it to us if we convince them to do so. This fantasy gets enacted in relationships unbeknownst to the person who is transferring.

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