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Cooper, A.M. (1987). Changes in Psychoanalytic Ideas: Transference Interpretation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 35:77-98.

(1987). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 35:77-98

Changes in Psychoanalytic Ideas: Transference Interpretation

Arnold M. Cooper, M.D.


Interpretation of the transference is central to all psychoanalytic models. Definitions of transference and transference interpretation have changed greatly during the past half-century, influenced by major movements in philosophy, advances in psychoanalytic research and theory, and changes in our understanding of Freud. This paper suggests that historical, relatively simple, concepts of the transference as the reproduction in the present of significant relationships from the past do not adequately meet current clinical and theoretical demands. Modernist views of the transference emphasize as additional sources of transference responses, the role of the analytic background of safety, the constant modification of unconscious fantasy and internal representations, and the interactive nature of transference responses, with important interpersonal and intersubjective components. It is suggested that the evolving modernist views of transference and transference interpretation permit a fuller accounting for transference phenomena and open the way for better informed interventions. A brief discussion of the issue of psychological "truth" and "distortion" as applied to transference phenomena is presented. The themes are illustrated with clinical vignettes.

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