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Mirror Transference

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mirror Transference?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mirror Transference

Mirror Transference: Counterpart to the Idealizing Transference

In this chapter we will explore the mirror transference, which is the counterpart to the idealizing transference which arises in the student’s process. The need of the typical student to be seen and appreciated by his teacher is part of his normal relationship with her. All people have this need in their important relationships. The mirror transference is a more intense manifestation of this normal need. It may occur in any significant relationship, but inevitably develops in the student in his relation to the teacher, as the narcissistic constellation approaches consciousness. He starts increasingly to feel the intense need to be seen, recognized, understood, related to, admired, and appreciated. He wants her to see him as special and unique. He wants the teacher to be accurately attuned and empathic to where he is. He comes to realize how much he wants her to give him special attention and love, and how sensitive he is to whether she is giving it to him or not.

The Human Soul Feeds on Light

A poetic (but not actually metaphorical) way of describing the need for mirroring is that the human soul feeds on light. This light is awareness, the soul's clarity about itself. The self needs this nourishment for its growth, development and maturation. When our awareness about ourselves is opening, as in insight, at the moment of that insight there is a quickening, a movement towards integration and development. We also observe that when we don't understand, when we are not clear about where we are or what is happening to us, there is a lack of movement. The soul will not move from where it is until it comprehends, completely sees where it is.

The Need for Mirroring is a General Need of the Soul

We can summarize our understanding as follows: The need for mirroring is a general need of the soul, necessary for it to recognize its manifestations and integrate them into its sense of identity. The mirror transference arises because of the activation of the elements of the self that were inadequately mirrored in the formative years. Since infants receive so little mirroring of their essential nature, when Essence is activated the mirror transference will be triggered. In any helping relationship and in spiritual work in particular, the mirror transference is primarily due to the activation of the Essential Identity. The more pathologically narcissistic the individual is, the more the mirror transference will express itself as the need of the grandiose self (rather than the Essential Identity) to be seen and glorified. Even in narcissistic pathology, however, the mirror transference reflects the activation of the Essential Identity. Since the grandiose self is the central representation in the self-identity structure of the narcissistic personality, and since the deeper need for mirroring of essential elements of the self is subsumed under the mirroring need of the self-identity structure, in the narcissistic personality the grandiose self appropriates this desire for mirroring.

The Threat of Losing Narcissistic Supplies

The process of working through narcissism reveals the vulnerability of the student’s identity. As she consciously or unconsciously realizes her vulnerability, she tries to resort to the mirror transference in the attempt to preserve the cohesion and integrity of her familiar sense of self. In this phase, any disturbance of the mirror transference, or any indication of the loss of narcissistic supplies in any part of her life, will disturb the narcissistic equilibrium. The shell will be exposed and its very integrity will be threatened. The awareness that the integrity of her sense of self is threatened may appear first as a vague feeling of dread. She may feel a general inexplicable anxiety. She may find herself preoccupied with catastrophic fantasies of being injured or harmed, even of fatal accidents. There is usually no rationale in her daily life for such feelings and thoughts, so she tends to dismiss them. She may become concerned about falling ill, and her fantasy might carry her to imagine extremes of illness and destruction with no apparent physical cause. She may start having nightmares about injury, illness, and death. Only an in-depth inquiry into these manifestations can reveal the underlying reasons for this existential dread. Then she can connect it to her work on narcissism; the loss of narcissistic supplies is threatening her in a much deeper and more fundamental way than she believed possible.

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