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LaFarge, L. (2014). How and Why Unconscious Phantasy and Transference are the Defining Features of Psychoanalytic Practice. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(6):1265-1278.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(6):1265-1278

How and Why Unconscious Phantasy and Transference are the Defining Features of Psychoanalytic Practice Related Papers

Lucy LaFarge

(Accepted for publication 29 September 2014)

In my view, phantasy and transference are the defining features of psychoanalytic practice. This view is linked to the belief that every aspect of human experience - one's thoughts and memories; one's perceptions of the world and of others within it; all that one says and does; and the manner and sequence in which all these interwoven dimensions of experience unfold - may be seen to have a dual aspect, to be stimulated and shaped both by conscious, contemporary experience and by memories and phantasies residing in the unconscious. The psychoanalytic setting and method provide a unique arena in which the duality of mental life can emerge and be recognized; the structure and multiple meanings of the unconscious aspect of experience can be traced and to some degree changed; and the patient can develop the capacity to continue this exploration, and the linked possibility of further change, without the analyst's guidance after termination. My model of psychoanalytic technique follows from my belief in the centrality of this function of psychoanalysis.

The myriad, complex, and often fantastical meanings that are condensed within any single instance of human behavior support the idea that our everyday, conscious experience is interpenetrated by unconscious wishes, fears, and beliefs that are only partially explained by contemporary, external reality. A second, unconscious reality at all times shapes our experience and is evoked by it. We perceive the present through the lens of this unconscious, psychic reality; and, at the same time, contemporary, conscious reality appears to bring to life elements of psychic reality which, blended with, and represented by, contemporary events, press toward the repetition of familiar dramas (Arlow, 1969; Isaacs, 1952).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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