Transference In Lydia Davis's In A House Besieged

883 Words 4 Pages
A fundamental aspect of the human experience is our relationships with people and objects in the external world. These interactions allow room for growth and development in both parties (Benjamin 19-20). This intersubjective approach is adopted in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, but it is also analogous to the relationship between individuals and the arts, in particular, literary work. Transferential exchanges of stories, raw emotions, and associations related to these emotions occur consciously and unconsciously in both types of relationships. Approaching literature with this intersubjective framework expands the readers’ abilities to gain further insight about not only the text itself, but also a deeper understanding of their own psyches. …show more content…
The general plotline of the narrative illustrates a conflicted dialogue between a man and a woman under an ambiguous, but nevertheless somewhat anxious, circumstance. Though Davis’ tale is brief, the text interacts with the reader in complex manner. It is communicating a piece of experience, just as a patient would unravel a personal narrative to the analyst. Transference will inevitably develop over the course of the relationship, resulting in the therapist’s own subjective reactions to the patient, known as countertransference (Safran 61-64). However, transference and countertransference are not exclusive therapeutic alliance – they are present in all forms of interactions. Readers may attempt to analyze this piece of literature from an objective standpoint, but it would difficult to completely dissociate the connections to their subjective experiences. The readers’ countertransference will drift them into free association, as they examine the text. They then dive into the memories of the past, unconsciously calling forth bundles of emotions and …show more content…
Parallel to the ways in which an analyst’s emotional state emphasizes particular unconscious communications from the patient, readers are also heavily guided by their moods or residual emotions. In the event that the reader is experiencing an unpleasant affect, the emotions that one interprets from Davis’ short story (81) may be more unintentionally pessimistic. Take for example how the man in the story concludes that armies and hunters are arriving at the house, while the woman suggests natural causes, such as the wind and the rain (Davis 81). The miscommunication between the man and the woman can easily evoke fear, hopelessness, anxiety, and mistrust in the reader if she had recently endured a traumatic, upsetting social interaction. Certain words from the story can appear to carry strong, negative connotations because of her preexisting negative affect. For instance, the word “besieged” might be coupled with feelings of suffocation and desperation. The short story does not necessarily intend to evoke these emotions in the reader, at least not consciously; nevertheless, the narrative allows for these feelings to become reality for that individual. The transferential exchange unveils the messages the literature is conveying, and equally as important, the insight of how one’s emotional and psychic processes shape the understanding of these

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