How ‘The Intern’ Explores Transference and Its Impacts on Personal Growth


Rewinders, you’re not having déjà vu. We’re speaking a couple of completely completely different film this week. It’s not The Internship. It’s The Intern. And it’s nice.

I’m excited to speak about this one for just a few causes, one among which is that the rom-com queen, Nancy Meyers, wrote and directed it. In different phrases, you already know this movie goes to have quite a lot of good kitchens, lovely clothes and actual individuals having actual, human issues.

The Intern doesn’t disappoint in that regard. However the movie additionally has one thing many viewers won’t count on: a deep and enlightening exploration of transference, full with some takeaways we will all use to develop ourselves into the individuals we finally wish to grow to be.

Welcome again to SUCCESS Film Rewind, the one podcast speaking about how one among Sigmund Freud’s foundational ideas applies to a 2015 dramedy. Let’s do it. 

First, the compulsory plot define: Retired government Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) will get a gig as a “senior” intern at an up-and-coming style web site run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Ostin has some unresolved points in her private life and from her upbringing, and Whittaker is attempting to fill a gap in his life left after his spouse died and he retired. 

As you would possibly count on from a comedy/drama, there are just a few laughs, however the two characters additionally be taught lots about life, themselves and one another because the plot progresses. It’s type of a religious sequel to The Satan Wears Prada.

In a form of opening monologue from Whittaker, which is absolutely him making use of for the internship, he mentions one thing Freud mentioned: “Love and work, work and love.” This quote captures the film so nicely—Whittaker desires the internship as a result of he has misplaced his love and work—however I don’t assume it’s an accident that the quote is from Freud.

Freud was the primary to explain the time period transference, which is the factor most of us affiliate with films or reveals that embrace therapists. On display, it’s typically portrayed as their sufferers falling in love with them, and the therapist says one thing about it being a traditional case of transference. Sadly, this extraordinarily useful psychology time period has been lowered by that definition.

Right here’s what it actually means, in line with the late Professor Doris McIlwain: Transference is the operation of the previous within the current second. In different phrases, it’s about seeing one thing out of your previous in one thing (normally someone) in your current.

I wish to analyze The Intern by means of the lens of transference as a result of this idea performs such an vital position within the movie. That leads me to our first SUCCESS Film Memento™ for the week: Transference is a instrument.

We see Whittaker and Ostin bringing big elements of their separate pasts into this second in time during which their paths cross. We see them attributing traits and options of previous individuals and experiences to at least one one other. In the end, they use transference as a instrument to vary and transfer ahead.

We will all be taught from that. While you’re feeling large emotions from the previous, keep in mind that you’re feeling them for a motive. And when you look inward in the best way your unconscious thoughts is asking you to, you need to use what you’re feeling as a instrument to foster private development.

Transference is terrifying.

Transference isn’t all roses. It’s additionally terrifying, which is our second SUCCESS Film Memento™ for this week. 

Ostin is that this form of archetypal hyper-CEO. We meet her whereas she’s buzzing by means of the workplace—on a motorbike, no much less—going by means of merchandise after merchandise on her crowded schedule. She’s managing all the pieces without delay as if she’s the world’s most proficient juggler. We’ve all recognized—or been—these individuals earlier than.

That type of hyper-productivity is commonly arduous to let go of. It’s an expression of the concern of one thing going improper, whether or not it’s in your enterprise, your private life or some other place. In case you’re in charge of all the pieces, you management the end result of all the pieces.

However we see within the movie that, to ensure that Ostin to take care of a number of the points from each her previous and her current, she has to let go of all of that and be taught to face nonetheless. For her, it’s terrifying—a lot in order that we see her attempt to eliminate Whittaker as an intern at one level as a result of he’s, as she says, “too observant.”

It’s not enjoyable to comprehend you’re letting points out of your previous affect the best way you interpret your current. In reality, it’s terrifying since you notice you aren’t seeing the image objectively and even all that clearly. It’s you realizing you’ve some emotional work to do. However when you get previous the concern and are available out on the opposite aspect, you’ll be higher for it—similar to Ostin is within the film.

Transference is a chance for transcendence.

That leads properly into our third SUCCESS Film Memento™ for the week: Transference is a chance for transcendence. 

Give it some thought: When these large feelings out of your previous rush over you due to transference, you’re not simply experiencing an emotion—you’re being introduced with a possibility. It’s a possibility to lastly take care of these feelings and experiences which have been swimming round within the deep, darkish swimming pools of your unconscious thoughts all these years. They’ve resurfaced, and that is your likelihood to deal with them.

We see Ostin lastly empowered to do precisely that, and it’s her transcendence that guides the movie to its conclusion.

I’ll cease there for The Intern. Transference is such an vital idea, significantly within the office, and I’m on a mission to unfold the phrase. I hope The Intern and this podcast have taught you a large number about transference, and I hope I’ll see you subsequent week as we break down Michael Clayton. Have an ideal week.


Alex Stevens

Alex Stevens invented motivational media criticism and reinvents the style each week on SUCCESS Film Rewind. Alex can also be a lawyer, artistic advisor, and artist, typically abruptly. Alex lives along with his household in Dallas, Texas.




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