One of my patients, grew up feeling repulsed by his mother’s feet, which he said gave off a foul odor. She used to put her feet on his lap while they were watching television, knowing that they would annoy him—then laugh at him when he became angry at her. As an adult, his relationships with women were brief, usually ending after he had sexual intercourse with them. At that point, he would find something about them that disgusted him and quickly reject them. Often some part of their body would disgust him.
The phenomenon of transference and its relation to sexual attractiveness is most clearly demonstrated in the therapy relationship. At some point during therapy, and particularly during psychoanalytic therapy (since in psychoanalytic therapy, the therapy relationship is itself seen as the main agent of change and therefore is intensely analyzed), many patients develop an erotic transference toward their analysts. In other words, the patient falls in love with the therapist. This happens no matter what the therapist looks like—or even smells like. Whatever the case, the patient suddenly becomes enraptured with this counselor, who becomes irresistible—and the patient comes at the analyst with sexual overtures of every variety. Psychoanalysts have discovered that sexual attraction is definitely something that has psychodynamic roots and can be cultivated.