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Reed, G.S. (1987). Scientific and Polemical Aspects of the Term Transference Neurosis in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Inq., 7(4):465-483.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 7(4):465-483

Scientific and Polemical Aspects of the Term Transference Neurosis in Psychoanalysis

Gail S. Reed, Ph.D.

Freud used the term transference neurosis in two ways. One, usually plural, is nosological and designates hysteria, phobia, and obsessional neurosis (Freud, 1917). The other, usually singular, pertains to a particular and organized development of the transference in the process of psychoanalysis. While a general term, this second meaning designates an extended clinical phenomenon unique in form to each individual analysis. It differs in this property from a term such as isolation because isolation describes a recurring formal constellation recognizable in varying situations. By formal, I refer to properties recognizable without specific ideational content.

A standard theoretical definition of the transference neurosis exists (Weinshel, 1971): the transference neurosis constitutes a recapitulation by the patient within the analytic situation of the infantile neurosis, although this definition itself is the subject of discussion about how much is reproduced and how much is a “new edition” of the infantile neurosis. However, clinical definitions of the transference neurosis which aspire to generalization are characterized by a high degree of elusiveness.

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