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De Saussure, R. (1943). Transference and Animal Magnetism. Psychoanal Q., 12:194-201.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:194-201

Transference and Animal Magnetism

Raymond De Saussure

The essential elements of hypnotism were known before Mesmer introduced it in Vienna about 1775, but it was only after it had gained him power and success that medicine condescended to study its phenomena seriously. Several writers had stated as early as 1784 that magnetism was a form of persuasion. Not until the end of the nineteenth century did a majority of psychiatrists accept this truth which had been restated by Bernheim. In 1812 Deleuze had noted of a number of patients that, when in a magnetic trance, they knew things about their pasts of which they were entirely unaware when awake. In 1784 the nature of transference was described. A century later, Freud found in it a psychotherapeutic instrument and discovered psychodynamics.

Toys on a table in a kindergarten will cause no disturbance among the children unless one child takes possession of one and begins to play with it. Immediately, all the other children will try to seize it. They see in it a means to power, whose possession would increase their own security. The history of science shows that scientists act much like children, although the objects seized are not toys but ideas. New doctrines are espoused dogmatically as a means of consolidating power. The older generation, feeling their power threatened, attack them with equal passion, and in this emotional struggle truth progresses slowly. A hundred years from now psychiatrists will smile indulgently at the difficulty we now have in distinguishing, among the mass of ideas introduced by psychoanalysis, the true from the false.

The sexual character of transference was first stated in a secret report to Louis XVI on animal magnetism by Bailly.

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