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Thompson, M.G. (1998). Manifestations of Transference: Love, Friendship, Rapport. Contemp. Psychoanal., 34(4):543-561.

(1998). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 34(4):543-561

Manifestations of Transference: Love, Friendship, Rapport

M. Guy Thompson, Ph.D.

Aprotracted debate has persisted throughout the history of psychoanalysis concerning transference phenomena and how they resemble or diverge from ordinary relationships outside the analytic situation. Indeed, it is uncertain as to whether the entirety of the analytic relationship is determined by the transference or if “extra-transferential” aspects of the analytic relationship can be said to exist, such as, for example, the so-called working alliance, the real relationship, or the personal relationship. I believe these questions are a consequence of conflicting conceptions of transference, compounded by the uncertainty as to whether or not transference is merely a technical term for a variety of phenomena that are ubiquitous to the human experience. In this essay I explore certain aspects of the transference that are perfectly ordinary outside of analysis, and then endeavor to show how Freud's views about the nature of love, friendship, and rapport inspired his conception of the transference and the complications that inhere in its resolution.

The psychoanalytic conception of transference is so central to what analytic treatment entails that it would take more time than I have at my disposal to summarize the entirety of its clinical significance in a single article. Nor shall I endeavor to offer an exhaustive overview of how transference has been treated in the vast literature on this topic, nor even a summary of the principal contributors to this most crucial question. I have broached this issue elsewhere and needn't repeat myself here (Thompson, 1985pp. 82-87, 118-135; 1994pp. 37-49, 175-191, 192-204). Rather, I examine Freud's conception of the transference with the aim of unearthing previously neglected elements of what the concept was originally intended to explain; in other words, I endeavor to determine specifically what transference is and the manner in which it is experienced by patient and analyst alike.

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