Barriers to Art – Negative Transference as Artistic Strategy (PDF)
Negative transference is a psychoanalytic term describing a feeling of ill-will, resentment, resistance or general hostility, typically towards the analyst. In this essay are examples of content creators who have utilized such a strategy of negative transference — making the audience dislike the creator — as a way of actually engaging the audience more. Examples include “love-to-hate” radio personalities like Howard Stern as well as author George R.R. Martin whose fans have a love-hate relationship with him: they love his characters but hate the grim fates he decided on for those same characters. This essay is a short stream-of-consciousness piece about what happens when creators antagonize those who engage with their creations, and if it’s possible to induce the audience into a feeling of hostility as a way of getting them to invest more in one’s work (which is potentially a powerful tool for storytellers looking to capture the interest of their audience). This essay explores the idea of utilizing negative transference as a means of engaging with the audience, of gaining ground in their psyche — because if it’s your goal to be engaging, it’s better to make them hate you than feel utterly indifferent about you.