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Blos, P. (1980). The Life Cycle as Indicated by the Nature of the Transference in the Psychoanalysis of Adolescents. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:145-151.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:145-151

The Life Cycle as Indicated by the Nature of the Transference in the Psychoanalysis of Adolescents

Peter Blos


Adolescent transferences are viewed in developmental perspectives relative to (A) the process of adolescent psychic restructuring and (B) the developmental tasks inherent in the adolescent process. Adolescent-specific developmental characteristics, discussed in detail, are (1) the second individuation process of adolescence, postulating a normative regression in the service of development (i.e. non-defensive); (2) a biphasic resolution of the Oedipus complex, postulating that the resolution of the reversed or negative Oedipus complex is the task of adolescence, thus bringing childhood to a close. The adolescent developmental tasks which give the transference in adolescent analysis its unique nature are related to the following issues: (1) non-defensive regression, (2) organization of ego continuity (encompassing the personal history), (3) coming to terms with 'residual trauma' through character stabilization, (4) sexual identity formation. Only after the termination of childhood (with the end of adolescence) can the infantile neurosis (i.e. the transference neurosis) acquire the state of formation (structuralization) and can become manifest in the transference neurosis. Pre-oedipal transference phenomena reflect either a universal aspect of adolescent normative regression or they represent a pathological condition. The problem of acting out (developmentally rooted in the adolescent process) in the transference resistance receives attention because it often threatens the continuation or completion of the analytic work with the adolescent. Transference phenomena at adolescence demonstrate the fact that the past is experienced via selective recapitulations, facilitating psychic structure dissolution as well as its re-organization. The intertwining of a double aim in one and the same process is emphasized. The conceptual formulations are complemented by clinical vignettes.

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