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Kepecs, J.G. Wolman, R. (1972). Preconscious Perception of the Transference. Psychoanal Q., 41:172-194.
    

(1972). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 41:172-194

Preconscious Perception of the Transference

Joseph G. Kepecs, M.D. and Richard Wolman, Ph.D.

SUMMARY

In an experimental study on perception of transference, three patients in psychotherapy were tachistoscopically exposed to a picture of the therapist, a blank, and a picture of another person of the same sex and about the same age as the therapist. The stimuli were all below the level of conscious recognition. To each stimulus the subject was asked to make a drawing; associate to the drawing; make another drawing, an elaboration of the initial picture, and associate to it. In two patients, testing was done near the beginning of therapy, and repeated after ten additional therapy sessions. The third patient was tested four times in a three-month period of therapy though only the results of the first two testing periods are presented here. Our findings are:

1. The initial preconscious perception of the therapist tends to persist from the first testing through later sessions, although it undergoes transformations sometimes of a quite surprising

nature. These transformations may be defensive or they may progress toward the assimilation of the percept of the therapist to more primitive feelings and ideas. This suggests that the initial perception of the therapist is crucial, and that much of the change in transference in therapy is a reworking, elaboration, and transformation of this percept.

2. The elaborations of original drawings often have a defensive, secondary revision-like quality, though at times they move to the side of more primitive drives. These elaborations correspond clinically to defensive positions, or defensive transferences, which may function to preserve the developing therapeutic relationship.

3. Responses to the blank tend to be self-directed and narcissistic. This corresponds to the clinical finding that transference is fluctuating and object cathexis may be withdrawn. The responses to the blank are an experimental analogue of secondary narcissism.

4. Responses to the control may correspond to displaced transferences, in which the distancing permits less distorted expression.

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