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Abend, S.M. Shaw, R.R. (1991). Concepts and Controversies about the Transference Neurosis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:227-239.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:227-239

Concepts and Controversies about the Transference Neurosis

Sander M. Abend, M.D. and Ronda R. Shaw, M.D.

THIS PANEL WAS ORGANIZED in order to reassess the current controversy concerning the concept of the transference neurosis, since the same subject was addressed in 1968 (Panel, 1971). In his introductory remarks, Abend highlighted some of the historical developments leading to the current controversy:

He noted that Gill (1954) placed the transference neurosis at the center of his definition of psychoanalysis. Citing Reed (1987), he reminded the panelists that at the time, Gill and many other analysts were caught up in repudiating Franz Alexander's pressure toward a more active stand and with distinguishing psychoanalysis from other therapies. Consequently, adherence to the concept of the transference neurosis and its proper technical management increasingly became the official criterion of analytic legitimacy.

Although Freud had already grasped the significance of the transference when he wrote the theoretical chapter in Studies in Hysteria(Breuer and Freud, 1895), his first extended designation and description of the transference neurosis itself, according to Abend, came in the series of papers published between 1912 and 1917. At that time, Freud understood neurotic illness to be the consequence of repressed instinctual impulses. The transference neurosis was seen both as giving expression to these instinctual wishes and serving as a resistance to remembering and understanding their historical origins and infantile nature. Transference interpretation thus provided unique access to the core of the patient's difficulties and, through the lifting of repression, the only means to achieving a truly psychoanalytic cure.


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