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Heath, A. (2015). Mind Your Mind, Episode 5: A Book by its Cover. PEP Video Grants, 1(1):8.

(2015). PEP Video Grants, 1(1):8

Mind Your Mind, Episode 5: A Book by its Cover

Author and Director
A. Chris Heath, M.D.

Brad Trent, Kimberly Trent, Jonna Lee Barta, James Grant, Drew Mondrey and Julia Piccolo

How do our expectations color the way we see others? If we understand these expectations, we are able to understand ourselves, see our world more clearly, and free ourselves from the limits our expectations impose. In “A Book By Its Cover”, Dr Heath explores the way this affects an individual, and some of the reasons transference happens. Dr Heath also asks us to contemplate how projections and transference lead to such things as anxiety, shame, and even cultural effects like racism.

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DR. HEATH: Hi, I'm Doctor Heath. I'm a psychoanalyst. You may not realize it, but we all carry expectations about people we meet. We expect people to think and act certain ways. Sometimes we're so sure the other person is going to be a certain way it even excludes really discovering who they are. It's a central thing that we psychoanalysts pay attention to when we're getting to know someone. We even have words for it, like transference. People expect other people to be a certain way without even knowing them.

But what I'm talking about is unconscious. A person doesn't even realize they're doing this. In fact, how am I going to portray this in this video? With the magic of video, let's imagine that I experience people as judging me. People often do this. Everywhere they go, they feel judged. So let's see a couple of examples of this transference thing. First, this is an example of what a boss might really say to an employee.

MAN: Great effort in the meeting. I really appreciate the contribution you're putting toward this team.

DR. HEATH: And here through the lens of expectation and the magic of PsychVision is what that employee actually hears.

MAN: You are not meeting expectations, and you're up for a review.

DR. HEATH: You see the difference, right? Now, let's try another one. Here that night is the employee's girlfriend. Here's what she actually says.

WOMAN: You know, you're quite a guy. I could imagine spending the rest of my life with you.

DR. HEATH: And here's what the poor guy hears.

MAN: I suppose you're all right for now. But you'll have to do better!

DR. HEATH: You can't get away from this stuff. It's everywhere you go. Here is earlier when he bought flowers for his girlfriend. Here's what the cashier actually said.

MAN: Do you like these flowers?

WOMAN: Oh. I guess I do. Any girl would like these.

DR. HEATH: And here, once again through the magic of PsychVision, is what he heard her say.

MAN: Ma'am, I'd like to get these flowers, please. Do you like them?

WOMAN: They're kind of cheap and tacky. Are you getting those for your dog?

DR. HEATH: But is it that I see the other person this way, or myself? See the fact is, these projections live in me. So it affects the way I see the other person and the way I see myself. It's like a filter that affects the way I see the whole world. But where did this come from?

Sure, it has something to do with the way a person grew up. There's so many things a child has to try to understand, even in a perfect childhood, that they create theories about why things happen. And these theories are so powerful they still live in us as adults, and they affect the way we see ourselves and other people. But childhood was a long time ago. Why do we still do this as adults?

What if I told you that your mind plays tricks on itself thinking it's helping. What if true love, and commitment, and all that is scary? Or success with all the camaraderie and competition and all that is stressful? This transference stuff is like living in a pretend world where at least you know what to expect. The costs are enormous. But everybody does this, at least in subtle ways, and is all unconscious.

You can see how complicated this can be, but it's central to psychoanalysis. Freud talked about it, Jung, Adler, Melanie Klein. But the answer is not in a book. It's in the individual experience with another human being.

Dr. Freud, I want to make these videos but I'm afraid they won't be perfect. No one will like them. Everybody will see it as a waste of time.

DR. FREUD: Ah, yes. Isn't that how you describe most people? Hm? Your boss, that woman you just met. You think they're all judging you. I get the feeling you think I'm that way.

DR. HEATH: Well, d'uh. You're even dressed as a judge.

DR. FREUD: You had me get into this outfit. Don't you remember?

DR. HEATH: Oh, my gosh! You're right. I'm only imagining that you're judging me. If these videos are successful, it makes me anxious. I think I'm trying to get you and everybody else to stop me. I'm going to do them after all.

DR. FREUD: Good boy.

Article Citation

Heath, A. (2015). Mind Your Mind, Episode 5: A Book by its Cover. PEP Video Grants, 1(1):8

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