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Enckell, H. (1999). Transference, metaphor and the poetics of psychoanalysis. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):218-238.

(1999). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 22(2):218-238

Transference, metaphor and the poetics of psychoanalysis

Henrik Enckell, M.D.

This paper investigates the structure and function of transference through the theory of metaphor. Transference is described as a manner of experiencing - and relating to - the analyst, manifesting an unconscious fantasy. The unconscious fantasy may be seen as a specific pattern of action, and the transference relationship as a step in the actualization of this pattern. This description is related to Sandler's and Sandler's conceptualization of a past and a present unconscious, as well as to the distinction between procedural and episodic memory. A review of the theory of metaphor shows that there are similarities between the structures of metaphor and transference; both combine representational material at hand, both make something hitherto invisible visible, and both construct a form of experience. Nevertheless, the aim and function of spontaneous transference is anti-poetical, arising to avoid what poetry aims for, that is, to create new meaning. Still, the psychoanalytic method of treatment strives to put transference to work - strives to catch it in a transformative process that creates meaning; that is, through the psychoanalytic frame, the analyst attempts to transform spontaneous transference from being a static mental structure into becoming a living poem of the mind.

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