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Another one on transference...

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Sorry (this is long), but I could do with some help.

I posted in the introductions section but I got worried and thought I might get him into trouble.

Some background: I'm 31, have Bipolar Disorder, but I'm intelligent, and articulate, and most of the time I wouldn't describe myself as vulnerable or naive. I'm married (albeit rather unhappily - off the record two healthcare professionals have said he more than likely has Asperger Syndrome, and my daughter's being assessed for that tomorrow). I have two children who are still pretty small (under 5).

After having my first child, I was very poorly with Puerperal Psychosis (a severe form of PND). I went to psychiatric hospital for 6 weeks.

So I started to see Dr D regularly when I got pregnant with Fred. I think everyone knew I would need more help, and I started to see him once a month or something, until I got quite poorly, and then he suggested he would be more comfortable seeing me once a week so he could keep an eye on me better. I knew even back then he had a soft spot for me, as he described me as "the highlight of the week" and whenever I suggested he must be very busy and I probably didn't NEED a weekly appointment, he made it clear he enjoyed seeing me and having some intellectual conversation.

We did of course discuss medical matters... for about 1% of the time. He always put me in at the end of surgery on a Friday morning so we could have 30-45 minutes together. We talked about a lot of things, but mainly my past or things that were going on in my life at the time. This worked well as I am mostly self-obsessed (I write a blog!!) and he seemed to enjoy my amusing anecdotes.

When I became so that I couldn't visit the surgery any more (chronic SPD and crutches and then once my son was born) he did home visits. He always liked to "keep his hand in" with stuff he didn't normally get to do so he did midwifey checks before my son was born, feeling my tummy etc. Not in a pervy way!! At least I hope not! Erk!

Then of course I got really ill. We saw each other weekly still and then in the November I remember ringing my Psychiatrist and BEGGING him to put me on lithium because I had done my research (with the help of Mr Google)... this meant I had to have regular blood tests and Dr D insisted on doing these himself as I was phobic of needles, paranoid about people I didn't know well, and also I think he liked the challenge of being able to get blood from non-existent veins.

I remained very poorly right through December and January, and Dr D expressed concern that I wasn't attending appointments and he had no idea how I was because I wouldn't even pick up the phone. I added him to my blog readers' list, mainly to shut him up, and to be perfectly honest, I never imagined he'd read the bloody thing as most of it is self-obsessed prattle and I know how busy he is. He read it. Every word. He never told me he was reading it, but when I started seeing him again, we began to discuss the things I'd written.

Most of our appointments were filled with laughter, chatting and the occasional medical discussion. He started to tell me things about himself, which I probably shouldn't know.

In about the February (I was still sleeping away from home due to weird sleep patterns and suicidal thoughts) I texted my friend Kate to tell her that I could sense there was something weird about my relationship with my doctor. Almost like I fancied him, even though I didn't find him physically attractive (as I had never looked at him that way). Thankfully, Kate didn't laugh and she took me seriously and listened to me and offered me some advice. THEN she laughed at me. My other friend Jemma then started referring to him as The Silver Fox which was, quite frankly, just a bit embarrassing. He is 55 with a long silver ponytail and big fluffy beard. Hardly the stuff of porno fantasies, yet I found myself feeling sexually charged with it all (I won't go into details ha ha).

Obviously there was no GROUNDING for me feeling like this. It made no SENSE. I felt like a FOOL. Clearly nothing was reciprocated, and where was it even COMING FROM???

Life plodded on with weekly appointments, and I found myself caring what I wore for those appointments, or making sure I'd straightened my hair / had showered more recently than 5 days ago etc. My blog kept kicking him out after 28 days because he didn't have a Google account, so eventually he just got himself a gmail address so that he could have permanent rights to the blog.

He then went on sabbatical for nigh on THREE FLAMING MONTHS!

I made arrangements to see another doctor in the meantime (though obviously Dr W was crap in comparison) and Dr D had made it clear that I should email him while he was away even though he wouldn't be able to get email til he was back in the local area, as his mobile phone is actually a BRICK. I didn't email him as I didn't want to bother him while he was on holiday. However, when I heard from Dr W he was due back I emailed him [gmail address obviously] to say I was pleased he was coming back (though he might not be so pleased ha ha) and just attached some photos of the kids and stuff and said what we'd been up to. No answer.

A week later I emailed him again, and I received a huge long email of what he'd been doing on holiday and how he'd been and some pictures. I thought that was really sweet. Little did I know ha ha!

Fast forward a bit, and the CMHT decide to restructure so I lost my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse - she came round fortnightly - she was the person I vented to about my life etc) and I also started a new job. All of this meant I ended up talking to Dr D a lot more than I used to, about relationship problems, my feelings about the children, all of that stuff. It was like having therapy every week... although I think by now we'd moved back to every two weeks at my insistence (I was once more back in employment and I needed my Tuesday afternoon to recover from work and do yet more work, I couldn't spend it chatting!)...

Then the emails started. I can't even remember how. Soon they were running away with us. We were sending each other 5 or 6 a day at one point, and they became obsessive and almost a bit stalker-ish because on Gmail you have a green light when someone's online... so I always knew when he was busy in surgery or replying to my message, or he'd finally got home for the night etc. Thanks to the emails, we ended up knowing each other's lives and routines off by heart including what we do in the evenings etc. For instance, I know he has Choral Practice on a Monday (he got roped into it apparently).

I guess the content of the emails is unimportant (he is very good at 2am drunken emails ha ha). After a few months, it was entirely my choice to a) bring up transference (thanks to a friend for Googling and finding it), :( call off the relationship, at least in terms of email, and c) cut it all out, but I'm SAD and I MISS HIM.

I saw him last Tuesday in person - obviously he'd sent a 2am drunken message last week when he saw my blog and was worried about me. Understandable. My fault for not just deleting him from my blog as so many of my friends advised me to do. Anyway I went in with intentions of being completely honest and getting everything said, and I think I actually managed it this time.

We talked for an hour and a half. It's a good job I'd taken cake for him because obviously he didn't get any lunch til gone 3pm. His stomach kept gurgling ha ha. SEXY. The first thing I'd told him is that I'd been Googling transference and specifically our sort of situation. I discovered several things:

1. Transference F*CKS UP the patient and HARDLY EVER ends well.

2. It is the responsibility of the therapist to recognise transference and not indulge in counter-transference.

3. A lot of personal accounts on fora etc had ended in suicide attempts etc. I identified so much with those women and their feelings.

We talked a lot about this alleged tranference that I have with him. He says he thinks that I am projecting the role of my (late) mother onto him, so that I am expecting him to care for me, and to chat with me all the time... he said he has a corresponding counter-transference (presumably he needs to be needed or there's someone in his past he had to look after - his own mother perhaps given that she was an alcoholic?) but he wouldn't tell me what that was. He was going to, but I made him not tell me (given that the advice on the web says that therapists shouldn't reveal that sort of information). We talked at GREAT LENGTH about my 'wounds' from my mother's death (I saw transference only happens to 'fucked up' people)... I claimed I'm not f*cked up and he begged to disagree which quite frankly is a load of bollocks. Yes, my mum's death does affect me but only when I'm not well.

I asked him if I needed to find another therapist to work through these ideas, because it's almost as if he's opened Pandora's box and then just f*cked off or something. Here's a load of shit - now you deal with it yourself. He said he would advise anyone to see a psychodynamic therapist but that's just because it was his 'thing'. He said he wanted to continue seeing me every fortnight and that maybe we could work through the transference and separate my view of him from my other view of him as my mother, and then maybe we could "go for a pint" - er.... Was tempted to point out that my mum didn't drink ;-)

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He thinks a lot of the problems when I get depressed are down to mother issues. One, because I don't have the one person I always wanted to talk to, but then also because of the WAY and AGE that she died. The whole experience was so traumatic (he hates the word traumatic, for the record) that I physically CANNOT recall the good things about my mum and my relationship with her because all I feel is hurt and pain and anger about how and when she went. I turn this anger in on myself and that causes the suicidal thoughts. I pointed out that coupled with my mood swings, this all adds up to disaster...

We discussed the pros and cons of seeing each other vs not seeing each other etc. He suggested stopping the emails as they have become very informal and bizarre and caused a lot of the strong feelings on both sides (although I have to say those feelings are still present in person, at least from my perspective). I asked him how he felt about the blog. He said he was happy to lurk but he would find it hard not to get in touch if I was struggling. I told him it was more sensible for me to remove his access, then he wouldn't be tempted. Plus I wouldn't end up "writing for him" and I could write about him which would be therapeutic from my point of view, as part of the problem with our "relationship" thus far has been the secrecy and the fact I haven't been able to be 100% open about my feelings. I have, of course, discussed things with my husband but my husband DOESN'T GET IT and just says I'm stupid not to email Dr D any more when he was such a good source of support. In fact tonight on the phone my husband suggested I meet Dr D for lunch instead of in surgery. Eh?

So, in summary, the emails and the blog contact have stopped. I am seeing him on 6th January. I will see how I go up til then and then we're going to reassess how we both feel and so on.

I feel like I'm in love with Dr D but I 100% know it's not real as I've Googled enough to see that it's classic transference. Also when I discussed this with him, he said the fact I'd missed him SO MUCH when we stopped emailing a few weeks ago (unsuccessfully ha ha) meant it was almost certainly transference. Yes, I liked his emails and they made me laugh and so on, but that wouldn't add up to missing someone THAT much. Maybe he's flattering himself :-P

In any case, I came home from that meeting feeling a bit more positive. No more emails, no more blog, no more contact and 3 weeks off. I felt good about the whole thing for the first time in absolutely ages; like we might be able to have a bit of honesty and work through the whole thing together (although theoretically he is supposed to be my family doctor and give me 10 minute slots and deal with meds only).

So what happened? You can guess. Less than 24 hours he emailed me again saying he thought we needed to meet sooner. He gave some rubbish excuse about how the grief of parting blah blah seems a bit harsh to go three weeks, will *I* manage... I told him I was annoyed about that. Will *I* manage? I was managing fine... I mean, 24 hours?! Even I have more willpower than that.

So I told him 3 weeks was fine and I was annoyed with him for breaking our agreement. Next day, I was fired unexpectedly from my job :-( and you guessed it... I asked if I could see him. Bl**dy fool that I am. So I saw him for an hour on Friday and we ended up getting locked in the surgery. We discussed lots of things as usual, and didn't get anywhere as usual, and I told him it had made things worse. There are lots of LOOKS and he mirrors my body language now. I keep trying to alter mine but then he "follows me"... argh. I only noticed that on Tues; wish I hadn't.

The weekend was terrible (not Dr D related, although I'm sure it doesn't help). I was actively suicidal and a mess, and I started to get a bit better today. I rang the doctors this morning and spoke to a lady doctor who insisted I see Dr D as he's mental health trained and he's the one I have the relationship with. So he emailed me this afternoon and said he'd ring me later. He rang me at 8.15pm (!) and he wants to see me tomorrow afternoon in his admin afternoon.

So I'll have seen him three times in a week. And it's NOT HELPFUL. And yet I cannot stop myself from doing this. Why? Transference is a pain in the bum.

Especially because I do not UNDERSTAND this transference thing. I get that I've lost my mum and have a gaping hole so I sort of project onto him that I'd like him to fulfil that role (which for me was wholly positive - she was my best friend)... however why is there sexual tension when my mum is of the same gender? Is it just because transference causes such strong feelings that it's bound to create erotic transference? Should I have let him tell me his countertransference? Would it help to know or just make things worse?

I feel like I already know so much about him that we can't go backwards. He himself said in an email he felt we had to go "forward, whatever forward means"...

I'd like to say at this point that he's said twice this is never going to become sexual because it would be wrong (power differential, incestuous connotations / transference and also he's my doctor). Though he has made it clear he thinks I'm pretty. Deluded man! Ha ha!

Views? Opinions? Do I need to find another doctor and remove him from my life? That makes me sad; we're like friends. He asked about meeting socially instead but I think it would be a bit weird. Also people in the village would look at us funny. Am also slightly worried he might try to slip me one... !!!!!

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1. Transference F*CKS UP the patient and HARDLY EVER ends well.

2. It is the responsibility of the therapist to recognise transference and not indulge in counter-transference.

3. A lot of personal accounts on fora etc had ended in suicide attempts etc. I identified so much with those women and their feelings.

Transference can actually be very healing if it is handled well by an ethical and competent professional. I don't think counter-transference has to be a horrible thing either' date=' as long as the therapist in question is very aware of his or herself and uses this as a tool to learn more about the client. The point being that therapy is about a client's needs and best interests. Healthy boundaries must remain in place.

Especially because I do not UNDERSTAND this transference thing. I get that I've lost my mum and have a gaping hole so I sort of project onto him that I'd like him to fulfil that role (which for me was wholly positive - she was my best friend)... however why is there sexual tension when my mum is of the same gender?

In transference the feelings can become intense and a sexual expression of such can be symbolic of this intensity. There are many things the feelings could mean that have little to do with anything sexual.

I'd like to say at this point that he's said twice this is never going to become sexual because it would be wrong (power differential' date=' incestuous connotations / transference and also he's my doctor). Though he has made it clear he thinks I'm pretty. [/quote']

He's already stepped over boundaries and behaved unprofessionally. I understand that it is both painful and difficult, but I would suggest stopping all contact with him and going to a therapist who can help you to work through these feelings.

Take care, Mentalist. I wish you well in healing from this experience.

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UPDATE - I changed my doctor this morning. I rang up and asked the receptionists to cancel my two remaining appointments with Dr D and I asked to switch to a different doctor, who I've always got on with.

Said doctor called me back and we discussed how bad I am at the moment. He suggested restarting my antipsychotic as it may help with the suicidal feelings. He said I sounded very flat.

This new doctor also said that whenever I wanted to and if I needed to, I should know that I could talk to him about whatever had caused me to switch doctors. Yes, I know I can talk to you but I don't really fancy being the cause of someone's ruin, thank you very much.

Do I email my other doctor to tell him what I've done or just wait for him to notice?

I feel instantly better for doing this.

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Tempting to say leave well enough alone but then he might contact you. Would you be able to send him a short undetailed email whereya just inform him your pullin out and dont enter into reasons. Also I would request that he no longer contact you in any way or form again.

Make it short and not so sweet sister!


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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry for the lack of reply; have been very depressed for a good 4-5 weeks.

I saw my new doctor for the first time yesterday for the allotted 10 minutes only. It was horrible. He didn't care about me at all. It just wasn't the same.

Email contact has resumed with Dr D (I "picked the scab" as he put it) and I think to be honest I'll just go back to seeing him. Nothing sexual is ever going to happen so it should be fine, right? :confused:

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Mentalist, of course it is your choice to make, but I hope you will reconsider and decide to not return to Dr. D. The fact that nothing sexual is happening does not mean emotional damage hasn't and won't if you continue to see him. I'm concerned. :o Please take care of yourself.

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Hi Mentalist

I'll be brief because I have all of five minutes before I have to attend to something else, but I can say, from my own experiences (see my thread under this topic), please, please listen to IrmaJean and co. At the end of the day the emotional damage is probably far more damaging (than any sexual encounter might exacerbate) and whilst you are "under the influence" of transference, your judgement is not objective at all. Get out NOW before you get very very hurt! You are welcome to PM me if you would like to discuss further.


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