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Sechaud, E. (2008). The Handling of the Transference in French Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(5):1011-1028.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(5):1011-1028

Educational Section

The Handling of the Transference in French Psychoanalysis Language Translation

Evelyne Sechaud

(Final version accepted 2 January 2006)

French psychoanalysis today is very diverse, and it would be presumptuous to seek to give a faithful, and even less, an exhaustive panorama of it. I would just like to set out a few general reflections in regard to transference, which will help to situate the positions of certain French psychoanalysts who exert an important influence by their writings, their role in the training of young analysts, and their institutional position. The question of the transference, more than any other perhaps, is by its very nature apt to trigger passionate responses: as a pillar of both theory and practice, transference remains one of the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. In response to Karin Obholzer's question: “Do you still believe in psychoanalysis today?” Serguei Constantinovitch Pankjeff replied in 1975 or thereabouts, “Today, I no longer believe in anything.” “In nothing at all?” she inquired. And then the Wolf Man replied, “My goodness, yes, I do believe in the transference”. In 1937, Freud referred to the successive relapses of his patient, whose treatment with him had lasted from 1910 to 1914, by saying, “some of these attacks were still concerned with residual portions of the transference” (1937, p. 218). When the situation is still, today as yesterday, one of interminable repetition, in an actuality outside time, just how is the transference to be handled?

In citing Freud spontaneously, I am illustrating one of the characteristics of French psychoanalysis of thinking with Freud! The splits which have marked psychoanalysis in France in the second half of the 20th century have favoured a great intellectual effervescence; and Jacques Lacan, who played a very important role in this movement, urged French analysts to read Freud often in German, with a view to following as closely as possible the elaboration of his thinking, since it is very true that thinking cannot be separated from its language of origin.

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