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Jekels, L. Bergler, E. (1949). Transference and Love. Psychoanal Q., 18:325-350.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:325-350

Transference and Love

Ludwig Jekels, M.D. and Edmund Bergler, M.D.

'The greatest difficulties lie precisely
where we are not looking for them.'
— Goethe

THE MIRACLE OF OBJECT CATHEXIS

'Narcissistic or ego libido seems to be the great reservoir from which the object cathexes are sent out and into which they are withdrawn once more; the narcissistic libidinal cathexis of the ego is the original state of things, realized in earliest childhood, and is merely screened by the later extrusions of libido, but in essentials persists behind them.'

This statement of Freud raises a number of questions. That the ego relinquishes a part of its libido in favor of an alien ego is anything but a matter of course which would make superfluous inquiry into basic causes; rather is it a miracle which urgently requires explanation. Why does the ego act in this manner? What are its motives? Does it gain advantages by this process—as seems very likely—and if so, what advantages?

As far as we know, there is in psychoanalytic literature only one direct clue to this puzzle: Freud says that the ego employs object cathexis in order to avoid an increased damming-up of the libido in the ego, which might be experienced as unpleasant. This explanation cannot be denied a certain degree of correctness. It is our purpose to investigate beyond this, and to seek the psychological motives which may explain this miracle of object cathexis which is ordinarily taken so much as a matter of course.

—————————————

Read before the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, November 8, 1933. First published in Imago, XX, 1934, pp. 5–31.

Translated by HENRY ALDEN BUNKER, M.D.

1 Freud: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. (Trans. by James Strachey.) London: Imago Publishing Co., Ltd., 1949, p. 95.

2 Freud: On Narcissism: An Introduction. Coll. Papers, IV.

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