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Kanzer, M. (1952). The Transference Neurosis of the Rat Man. Psychoanal Q., 21:181-189.

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(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:181-189

The Transference Neurosis of the Rat Man

Mark Kanzer, M.D.

What has become familiarly known as the 'Rat Man' is the classical Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (1909) described by Freud, which represents an early phase of psychoanalytic theory and technique. As Kris points out, it reflects the 'conspicuous intellectual indoctrination' of patients which prevailed at the time, and the little emphasis on reliving in the transference which analysis was later to acquire. Freud nevertheless was stressing even in this paper that transference is the effective therapeutic agent; interestingly, however, from the standpoint of the evolution of analytic thinking, he did not then clearly apprehend the transference significance of many of the exchanges between the Rat Man and himself. In reconstructing this stage of analytic technique, it appears that much of the intellectual indoctrination then considered necessary and compatible with the 'mirror role' of the analyst was actually, on an unconscious level at least, a recognition of the resistances and a more or less active intervention which modified the patient's attitude toward the physician. The Rat Man contains remarkable material for a study of the intuitive processes by which Freud explored the minds of his patients, as well as of the clinical experiences that determined the direction analytic formulations were to take.

In introducing us to his methodology, Freud cited Alfred Adler, 'formerly an analyst', as having drawn attention to the peculiar importance of the very first communications made by patients. He then confirms this observation by giving the evidence of homosexual object choice in the Rat Man's initial remarks. Freud did not, however, draw from this the apparent


1 Freud: Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis (1909). Coll. Papers, III.

2 Kris, Ernst: Ego Psychology and Interpretation in Psychoanalytic Therapy. This QUARTERLY, XX, 1951, pp. 15–30.

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