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Levin, F.M. (1997). Integrating Some Mind And Brain Views Of Transference: The Phenomena. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1121-1151.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1121-1151

Integrating Some Mind And Brain Views Of Transference: The Phenomena

Fred M. Levin

Figure 1.

A thought experiment: Imagine you are falling through the hierarchy of Piagetian levels of organization in your own mind. The person falling through the overlapping triangles represents three cardinal aspects of transference: (1) regression, (2) hierarchical association structure, and (3) judging similarity and difference between “levels.”

Figure 2.

The direction of learning is critical. Connecting points D, E, and F to triangle ABC needs to start from P-1 as shown in (a), where P-1 is inside the 2º area (working memory active). Starting from P-2 does not work, since P-2 is not inside the 2º area (hence, working memory is inactive); (a) is the situation with free association, whereas (b) represents forced reactive learning.

Because understanding the underpinnings of transferential learning allows the analyst to more effectively exploit transference in the clinical situation, as well as to advance psychoanalytic theory, the functions and mechanisms of transference phenomena in learning are subjected to an interdisciplinary analysis. Through transference the brain creates hierarchical databases that make emotional sense of the world, especially the world of human relationships. Transference plays a role in defense and resistance clinically; less explored but equally important is the adaptive potential of transference and its effect on an individual's readiness for structural change through the activation of working memory. Most investigators within psychoanalysis have not considered the importance of similarity judgments and memory priming, especially as these help to explain why transference and its proper handling are effective in treatment.

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