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Ahlskog, G. (1987). The Unanalyzable Transference: A Portrait of Roustang's Critique of Classical Technique. Psychoanal. Rev., 74(2):179-200.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Review, 74(2):179-200

The Unanalyzable Transference: A Portrait of Roustang's Critique of Classical Technique

Gary Ahlskog, Ph.D.

The stance of the analyst during treatment, involving as it does “maintaining the same ‘evenly-suspended attention’ … in the face of all that one hears” (Freud, 1912a, pp. 111-112), the surgeon-like attitude of putting aside personal prejudice and desire, and the bending of the analyst's unconscious “like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient” (p. 115) has been summarized by Roustang (1980) as portraying availability but impenetrability. By virtue of this availability, the patient becomes all-powerful, that is, able to dream and desire without limit. By virtue of impenetrability, the patient is reduced to total powerlessness, since these limitless desires accomplish nothing as regards the aim of reaching, knowing, or moving the seemingly available analyst. Paradoxically, the patient's regression toward excessive infantile libidinal images, facilitated by the analyst's stance, is rarely able to be resolved in the transference because the stance itself thwarts resolution. What Freud in his genius brings to light he is eventually unable to treat, a stalemate referred to by Roustang as “the game of the other” (1980, Chapter 5). To the extent that this game can be successfully resolved, it requires a revised stance for the analyst, possibly putting the analyst's own psyche at risk.

To elaborate this paradox is to question anew the relationships between transference, resistance, and free association, questions pursued extensively, relentlessly, and innovatively by Roustang.

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