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Steiner, J. (2008). Transference to the Analyst as an Excluded Observer. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(1):39-54.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(1):39-54

Transference to the Analyst as an Excluded Observer Language Translation

John Steiner

In this paper I briefly review some significant points in the development of ideas on transference which owe so much to the discoveries of Freud. I then discuss some of the subsequent developments which were based on Freud's work and which have personally impressed me. In particular I mention Melanie Klein's elaboration of an internal world peopled by internal object and her description of the mechanisms of splitting and projective identification, both of which profoundly affect our understanding of transference. Using some clinical material I try to illustrate an important transference situation which I do not think has been sufficiently emphasized although it is part of the ‘total situation’ outlined by Klein. In this kind of transference the analyst finds himself in an observing position and is no longer the primary object to whom love and hate are directed. Instead he is put in a position of an excluded figure who can easily enact rather than understand the role he has been put in. In this situation he may try to regain the position as the patient's primary object in the transference or avoid the transference altogether and make extra-transference interpretations and in this way enact the role of a judgemental and critical super-ego. If he can tolerate the loss of a central role and understand the transference position he has been put in, the analyst can sometimes reduce enactments and release feelings to do with mourning and loss in both himself and his patient.

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