Transference Cure Revisited

In the realm of emotional suffering, there has always been an illusory type of improvement. If someone in the role of ‘healer’ is convincing enough, the recipient will tend to feel better, and even in limited ways function better, if they remain in contact with the ‘healer, at least for a while. This is an extended or expanded placebo effect. The healer can be convincing because they are a charlatan or more often, simply convinced themselves.

In psychoanalysis this situation came to be called a transference cure. It was recognized that the effect inevitably decayed, but also the state of the relationship’s transference affected it. The ‘healer’ always had to be an idealized healer. This becomes ‘addicting.’ This is how therapy cults start, but it also happens inadvertently to naive therapists, who may, and usually do, attribute the initial seeming improvement to their methods, and then continue to apply the method superstitiously

If a type of therapy has a manualized or set procedure, the risk of a transference cure is all the greater. There are currently some popular therapy approaches under various acronyms that seem to fit this profile. I sometimes get a request for a set ‘bio-energetics’ procedure. AlexanderLowen never set one out perhaps understanding this very problem. Reich does seemed to have effected quite a few transference cures in the sense that his personality was essential, and the relationships had some cult like aspects.

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