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Kairys, D. (1952). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 21:457-459.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:457-459

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

David Kairys


The term, character resistance, is derived from the theory and technique of Wilhelm Reich; hence, it is necessary to review and evaluate Reich's early psychoanalytic contributions. Psychoanalytic therapy was born when resistance was taken into account and Reich participated in this development which was later largely replaced by Anna Freud's work. Reich's concept of 'character resistance' must be described as an artifact, although his first rule of therapy is still valid: interpretations should start from the ego rather than from the id. Reich stressed this particularly in the analysis of the transference. He assumed that all transference is a resistance and he regarded no initial transference as the repetition of a genuine object relationship, therefore distrusting any early positive transference. Reich believed that the form of the initial transference resistance is characteristic of the personality, hence an expression of character, and he called it 'character resistance'. He conceived of the mental apparatus as having a 'layer cake' structure and insisted that interpretations must follow this layering.

Reich's belief that all initial transference is a resistance is incorrect. Freud observed in 1915 that the resistance uses transference-love but does not create it nor diminish its genuineness. Reich's conception of transference is an outgrowth of his own aggressive and suspicious personality traits.

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