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Fischer, N. (1997). Transference Neurosis And Psychoanalytic Experience. By Gail S. Reed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994, 240 pp., $32.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:257-261.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:257-261

Transference Neurosis And Psychoanalytic Experience. By Gail S. Reed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994, 240 pp., $32.50.

Review by:
Newell Fischer

Gail Reed has written a splendid book. Thoughtful, scholarly, and rich in content, it is an outstanding contribution that should stimulate a good deal of discussion.

Reed's work begins as an inquiry and evolves into a study. The author first attempts to discern how contemporary psychoanalysts think about and utilize the concept of transference neurosis, a construct that for many clinicians is a defining aspect of psychoanalysis. Issues of definition, boundaries, and utility guide the direction of this inquiry, through which Reed hopes to formulate a clear definition of the concept, one that reduces ambiguities and reflects contemporary clinical usage while retaining what is valuable in Freud's earlier conceptualization.

To provide context, Reed outlines certain unique features of psychoanalysis as a science, the denotative and connotative aspects of technical language in psychoanalysis, and some of the “irrational” transferential elements inherent in scientific inquiry and psychoanalytic learning. The framework for this study is established further by Reed's succinct and lucid summary of Freud's papers on transference and transference neurosis. Two themes prominent in her survey are (1) Freud's view of the psychoanalyst as engaged in heroic battle with a disease that becomes crystallized in the transference neurosis, and (2) Freud's mission to delineate psychoanalysis as a scientific discipline separate and distinct from hypnosis and suggestion, its nonscientific precursors.

Reed, extending her historical survey into the post-Freudian period, emphasizes the controversy surrounding Franz Alexander's Alexander's contention that the regressive transference and transference neurosis are counterproductive and to be avoided, or at least diluted, since they are themselves forms of illness.

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