For people unfamiliar with the psychological term “transference”, it is defined in the The Free Dictionary by Farlex as:
The unconscious tendency of a patient to assign to others in the present environment feelings and attitudes associated with significant persons in one’s earlier life; especially, the patient’s transfer to the therapist of feelings and attitudes associated with a parent or similar person from childhood. The feelings may be affectionate (positive transference), hostile (negative transference), or ambivalent. Sometimes the transference can be interpreted to help the patient understand childhood attitudes.
Transference is not limited to patients for their doctor or therapist, anyone can experience transference when they encounter a person that reminds them of a person from the past. For example, you might meet a person that unconsciously (or consciously) reminds you of an old love. Some of the feelings you experienced for that old love become alive to a degree with such a person, negative or positive. It can affect your interactions with them.
I briefly mentioned transference in my post My 1st through 10th painful incarcerations (Part 1) when I described Dr. Ripley. In that post, when I first saw him he left a lasting positive first impression on me. It was sort of adoration at first sight. I’ve now known him for almost 13 years, and the feelings are still strong for me.
I see Dr. Ripley as almost an angelic figure. He is very tall and handsome, with caring eyes. Unlike some other people in my life, he really listens to me carefully and fully understands my plight. He has a mellifluous voice and his words to me always seem carefully chosen. He represents great strength. I guess you could say I have a crush on him, despite him being 26 years my senior. Though he doesn’t affect my loving relationship and adoration for my husband, he fills in a missing gap in my life. It took years for me to fully realize this, and for whom.
When I first met Dr. Ripley, I had recently lost my mother. I was still deeply grieving her loss. I grieved that she lost her precious life, and also that I lost her precious gifts of caring she gave to me. She was the closest person to me besides my husband, but close, obviously, in a parental way.
When I lost my mom I felt I supported my dad emotionally more than the other way around. My husband supported me greatly, but again, he was my husband and not a parent. I do now believe Dr. Ripley sort of took my mother’s place in my mind and heart. It’s strange that he is a man and not a woman, but I guess that doesn’t really matter. Yes, I have a crush on him. I never had a crush on my mother like that, but I guess adoration presents itself in different ways.
I see Dr. Ripley frequently. More than I even see my dad or siblings. When I need Dr. Ripley’s support, he always calls back the same day. When ill, he seems to always have time to see me or suggest remedies. Though my mother knew me well, she never knew me at the worst of my illness. Dr. Ripley does. Actually, no one else completely does in the way he knows. There is a huge comfort in that.
When I don’t see Dr. Ripley for several weeks I must say I miss him terribly. I’m guilty of talking about him a lot in between appointments. My husband is quite tolerant of it (with only occasional rolling eyes), but I know he understands.
Someday there will come a time when I no longer see Dr. Ripley. I wonder if it will seem like the death of a beloved parent again. I sometimes wish for more from him (a hug or hand holding), but he’s kept strict physical boundaries these years. Perhaps on the last day I see him, when I’ll surely cry. I also wish I could write him, though I’m not sure if he will want that. I hope he does. In any case, he will always live in my memory. A lasting significant impression.