Existential Psychology

Love Transference

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A young couple gets a puppy because one or both is feeling the instinctive need to start producing offspring. It’s kind of a test run for the real baby but in daily care taking they fawn over it as if it were the real baby, they start to think of it as their real baby, as the center of the universe, as if it were the wanted child. As the puppy develops it grows accustomed to that level of care and attention, to that level of intimate contact, to feeling wanted.

But then the real baby arrives. Suddenly and unceremoniously the dog is ripped down from its pedestal, it becomes an afterthought if not an outright annoyance. The maternal and paternal fawning was a case of love transference, the dog was a fill in for where the caring and attention were pointed all along.

Now, it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that the dog would suffer immense emotional and psychological pain under these new conditions. It was the star player and now it’s on the bench, it was an insider and now it’s an outsider. It doesn’t know what it’s done wrong. And its behavior changes of course. It becomes more needy or aggressive, for example. And how do most dog owners respond to these behavioral changes? They blame the dog! They get fed up pretty quickly, maybe they even give the dog away. Yet it’s their own behavior that caused these changes in the dog.

It doesn’t stop there of course. The baby takes the privileged role of center of the universe away from the dog for a while, but only until its parents get pregnant again and have another baby, at which point the child is pulled down from its pedestal to make way for the new center of attention in the same way the dog was. Now, it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that the child suffers immense emotional and psychological pain under these new conditions. It was the star player and now it’s on the bench, it was an insider and now it’s an outsider. It doesn’t know what it’s done wrong. And its behavior changes of course. It becomes more needy or aggressive, for example. And how do most parents respond to these behavioral changes? They blame the child! They get fed up pretty quickly, maybe they even put the child in therapy.. Yet it’s their own behavior that caused these changes in the child.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and to evolving my own philosophical system ever since. In addition to the content on this site I offer online coaching using Skype. If you'd like to learn more about it click on the online coaching tab or if you think you'd like to set up a session send me an email at evolve@evolutioncounseling.com.

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