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Stolorow, R.D. Lachmann, F.M. (1984). Transference: The Future of an Illusion. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:19-37.

(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:19-37

II Theoretical Studies

Transference: The Future of an Illusion

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D. and Frank M. Lachmann, Ph.D.

Of the concepts introduced by Freud to illuminate human nature, transference is the most encompassing. It occupies a pivotal position in every aspect of psychoanalysis. It is pictured as the tidal wave of the past that washes over the present, leaving its unmistakable residues. It is invoked to explain bizarre acts of aggression, painful pathological repetitions, and the tender and passionate sides of love and sex. First seen only as a resistance to psychoanalytic treatment, it was later acknowledged as its facilitator as well. Generations of analysts have sought to use transference to distinguish analyzable from nonanalyzable patients. Finally, the concept of transference has been used to disparage cures obtained by nonpsychoanalytic therapies and to excuse failures encountered in psychoanalytic treatments.

Initially, the idea of transference was applied far more modestly. Breuer and Freud (1893-1895) ascribed what we now call transference to a “false connection” made by the patient. They noted that this was both frightening to the patient and a regular occurrence in some analyses, wherein the patient transferred “on to the figure of the physician the distressing ideas which arise from the content of the analysis” (p. 302).

The image of the transference “arising” was consistent with the “archeological” model implicit in much of Freud's psychoanalytic theorizing, a model based on an “assumption that [the] patient knew everything that was of any pathogenic significance” (Bergmann and Hartman, 1976, p. 310).

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