Transference: is it because we fear life?


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Transference: is it because we fear life?

The human condition is just beyond the capacity of humans to endure without defensive illusions.

William James informs us that fear is “fear of the universe”. Otto Rank informs us “The adult may have fear of death or fear of sex, the child has a fear of life itself”. Eric Fromm wrote several books directed at our “fear of freedom”.

If we come into this world with fear clutching at our inner most being how can we emerge from these fundamental and universal terrors with self confidence? The answer, of course, is only by reliving our self of this terror.

“This is how we can understand the essence of transference: as a taming of terror”.

The child senses chaos and overwhelming power and s/he also senses that the only safety lies in the power of some other being. “The child takes natural awe and terror and focuses on individual beings, which allows him to find the power and the horror all in one place instead of diffused throughout the chaotic universe…The transference object, being endowed with the transcendent powers of the universe, now has in himself the power to control, order, and combat them…By this means, the child can control fate.”

The child, via transference, gives to another person the means to control universal terror but in doing so this other person becomes the new fate of the child. “He binds himself to one person to automatically control terror, to mediate wonder, and to defeat death by that person’s strength. But then he experiences transference terror; the terror of losing the object, of displeasing it, of no being able to live without it.”

I suspect one example of this phenomenon is the battered wife who is unable to leave the husband who batters and beats her for years and occasionally kills her. All this is the result of transference terror.

Another extreme example might be schizophrenic transference.

“Transference proves that everyone is neurotic, as it is a universal distortion of reality by the artificial fixation of it…the less ego power one has and the more fear, the stronger the transference…the more you fear death and the emptier you are, the more you people your world with the omnipotent father-figures, extra-magical helpers”

One reason that some people find the world to be so terrifying is that these individuals see the world in many ways without the blurring of repression, i.e. the repression that saves the “normal” person is no veil of ignorance for the schizophrenic.

Quotes from The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker