“Scatter,” by Patricia Walsh.
Oil, 39″ x 52″



“Not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour – and in the oddest places! – for the lack of it.”

James Baldwin. Giovanni’s Room








What lies deeply buried in the psyche beyond conscious comprehension

is experienced outside in someone else.

                                                                                    Harry Wilmer

Transference Dream.

Working with Harry Wilmer in his very spacious workroom; he’s writing up a case study of a person he’s been seeing & it happens to be Larry! He writes in shorthand which he then reads to me and asks for my comments. That leads to more discussion about Larry and his dreams which, again, he reads. I hear the phrase, “Foregoing, if not the soul” coming from Harry or someone else. Dec 22, 2011.

         My relationship with Harry Wilmer as friend & colleague continues in the dream. Larry is alive and in some kind of “therapy” with Harry—we’re sharing him! How did Larry get into therapy? How & why with Harry? 

For some years, at the urging of my partner John, I had been working on a novella, partly autobiographical, about a brief affair I’d had with “Larry,” a young US marine sergeant just having returned from the Korean War. John’s prodding came years after my analysis & serving in the military with psychoanalyst Harry Wilmer where I had encountered numerous youthful marines in our therapeutic communities & in brief psychotherapy, experiencing what later became known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I posted “Bitchin’ Man!” on my website & on Kindle [2003].         

          In the novella, I depict my carrying on with Larry as rapidly turning into a “therapeutic” relationship which I couldn’t handle at the time. In the dream version, Harry takes part in the association—assumes the “therapy,” freeing me—from Larry and/or of Larry? If “from”, then I am detached (as in distance); if “of,” freed from a connection; a particular relationship.

          At any rate, Harry is making it possible for me/Larry to sever/abandon our relationship—or, to the contrary, continue and/or change it. If Larry enters into a transference relationship with Harry, it allows him/me/us to develop another kind, differing from the father/son/lover (“male mother”) one that we were entering into in the novella. Larry then might have no further interest in me, or, on the other hand, it might remain, splitting the transference momentarily. He could now see me more as a “buddy” sublimating sexuality, or again, we might come into a total relationship including sexuality, which, in the novella, we had come into.

          If he rejected me completely, how would it affect me? Several possibilities. I could finally rebuff him, as I did in the novella, but leave the door open (literally by giving him a key to my house as we part) or, distance myself from him permanently as Harry replaces me. As Larry’s therapy progresses, I might see him as totally unappealing mentally and physically. Or as a “raw” individual open to growth and change, which occurred on both our parts in waking reality.

Harry Wilmer writes, in his book How Dreams Help, that,

         The dream may contain a figure that is obviously the image of the real therapist. [who] personifies attitudes, thoughts, or feelings that the dreamer harbors about that person. . . affirming, frightening, or depreciating, giving insight to both the dreamer & the analyst. . . Their relationship may be erotic, loving, dreadful, hating, or dangerous. . . It is a projection, hooking onto both reality & fantasy.

             He concludes with a poem in Closeness in Personal & Professional Relationships that “The power of the transference dream explains why the therapist’s explanations & interpretations arouse feelings far beyond their words & ideas. They are highly charged.”

            When there is love in the transference

That is the time, above all, to be empathic,

If managed properly nothing is lost and much is

          gained, and

psychotherapy becomes more interesting

& ever more likely to help.


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