Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Transference, Countertransference, and Search Committees

My most recent stint serving on a search committee has coincided with teaching a class on Freud. The intersections have been instructive.

There is a strange collision that happens as the fantasies and desires of the search committee members are projected onto each of the candidates in turn and find, or fail to find, some reflection or connection.

Oddly, it seems to me that the candidate plays the role of therapist to the committee rather than vice versa. The successful candidate is the one who best manages the transference of the committee members as well as their own countertransference onto the department and the imagined job. Wishful thinking runs rampant at every turn. This includes the projection of fears which are no less reliant on fantasy than are the projections of hope.

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