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Bollas, C. (1994). Aspects of the Erotic Transference. Psychoanal. Inq., 14(4):572-590.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 14(4):572-590

Aspects of the Erotic Transference

Christopher Bollas, Ph.D.

A female patient whom I will call Louise has led a deeply schizoid life, with only occasional sexual encounters. In her third year of analysis she anxiously expresses her affection for her analyst, and in a few weeks the transference is eroticised. Pushed by a kind of internal force—which we may designate as the power of the instincts—she falls into complex and passionate erotic fantasies about her analyst. She will meet him at the market, he will “bump” into her, and this surprise meeting will release the analyst to the unsettling passions that professionalism has only barely contained within the consulting room. She reports a different chance-encounter fantasy for each session, although her fantasies of fellating the analyst, or of wearing an outfit he could not possibly resist, are more difficult to report. The disclosure of these erotic preoccupations is simply stated but laden with an unrealised expectation. The analyst's silence seems paradoxically helpful. She wishes he would speak and finds his silence rejecting, but at the same time she does not want to know what he thinks, so she prefers the absence of speech. The occasional request for association feels slightly officious, as if the analyst is defensively announcing the presence of psychoanalysis in an otherwise torridly complex situation, but Louise also feels relief at the analyst's separate existence, clearly outside the domain of her fantasy. Furthermore, she takes heart from his matter-of-fact recognition of her sexual promiscuities, as she narrates one erotic encounter with the analyst after another. Early fears that he would deter these reports or interpret them away have waned, although she can feel the intrinsically detoxifying effect of his nonresponsive

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Christopher Bollas, Ph.D., is a member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society who lives in London.

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