First off, regardless of whether or not someone experienced a lot of trauma during their early years, they are going to engage in transference. It could be said that this is just something that human beings do. The difference is that if someone has experienced a lot of trauma, this is likely to be something that will have a more disruptive influence on their life.
A very simple way of looking at the defence mechanism known as transference would be to say that it is what takes place when one sees another person as being the same as someone from their early years. An automatic process when this happens, then, one can end up seeing another man in the same way that they viewed their father or another woman in the same way as they viewed their mother. Additionally, they can see another man in the same way that they viewed their mother and vice versa and even see one person as being a reflection of both caregivers.
However, this is not to say that this is something that they will consciously choose to do as it will just happen. Thus, this whole process can take place without one even realising it. One experience so, if someone had a ‘good enough’ upbringing and their caregivers were generally loving and supportive, seeing other people as a reflection of these people is generally not going to be an issue.
Now, it could be said that not everyone is going to be like this so that this could mean that they are more likely to be taken advantage of. This is true; however, through being brought up in the right way, they are likely to have good boundaries and a felt sense of self-love and self-worth, which will mean that they will be less likely to come into contact with people who would be like this. If ever they do, though, they are likely to value and respect themselves enough to stand their ground and to look after themselves.
Another experience if, on the other hand, someone’s early years were very traumatic, and were anything but loving and supportive, seeing other people as a reflection of their caregivers is likely to cause problems. Once again, not everyone is going to be like their caregivers but this is not going to matter. Another part of this is that, as they probably won’t have good boundaries or have developed a felt sense of self-love or self-worth, they are likely to come into contact with a lot of people who also in a very bad way.
Say, for example, that they generally play the role of the victim; some of the people who they come into contact with could play the role of the perpetrator. A lot going on it is then not that one is always going to see other people in a way that doesn’t match up with who they are, as there can often be a lot of truth to how they see another person. Nonetheless, no matter how accurate their view might be, another person is not going to be their mother or father, or for that matter, anyone else from their early years.
Ultimately, thanks to what they experienced during their early years, they are going to be vibrating at a certain frequency, and this frequency will define what they are and are not attracted too and what they can and can’t experience. Therefore, transference alone doesn’t tell the whole story. At a deeper level, behaving in this way is going to be what feels safe, and it will be a way for them to keep their trauma at bay.
Another part along with this, they can see a lot of the people in their life and their partner, if they have one, as being strong and highly capable. One is then going to put certain people on a pedestal. Deep down, they can feel weak, incapable and insecure, and through unconsciously seeing these people as parental figures, it will allow them to settle down and to handle life.
The trouble is that they will be dependent on these people and there will be no reason for them to grow and develop. A big surprise if one was able to take a step back and to see what is going on, to see that the people in their life are not their caregivers, they could be incredibly shocked by what has been taking place. To the part of them that associates what is familiar as what is safe, experiencing life in this way will be seen as the only way for them to survive.
For this to change, they will need to work through their pain. This can be provided by the assistance of a therapist or healer. If they take this route, they are likely to unconsciously see this person as a reflection of their caregivers and the other people who were around at this stage of their life.
On the plus side, they will be able to work through what comes up.