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Diamond, D. (1993). The Paternal Transference: A Bridge to the Erotic Oedipal Transference. Psychoanal. Inq., 13(2):206-225.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 13(2):206-225

The Paternal Transference: A Bridge to the Erotic Oedipal Transference

Diana Diamond, Ph.D.

A male patient in the termination phase of an intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy reported that in the course of our work together I had come to represent three things to him: “You were my mirror image — I looked at you and saw myself reflected; you were the therapist who rationalizes my thoughts, who hears all my ramblings, rearranges them, makes them appear a lot more sensible; and in my fantasy you were the therapist-wife who will be with me always.”

The transference imagos that this patient so eloquently articulated may be conceptualized as a movement from the preoedipal-maternal through the oedipal paternal to the erotic oedipal maternal transference. If we think of the mirror as the precursor of the mother's face, as Winnicott (1971) put it, the preoedipal aspects of the therapist as mirror become evident. Just as Winnicott talks about how the infant first imagines a cohesive self through glimpsing its fragmented reflections in the mother's gaze, so did this severely disturbed patient relate that he first saw his own reflection as a “very depressed, angry, and confused young man” through our therapeutic work.

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