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Abend, S.M. (1993). An Inquiry Into the Fate of the Transference in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:627-651.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:627-651

An Inquiry Into the Fate of the Transference in Psychoanalysis

Sander M. Abend, M.D.


Despite universal agreement about the importance of transference, there is no single, comprehensive, generally accepted explanation for the place transference occupies in clinical psychoanalytic theory. In this presentation, I trace the origins of some major trends prominent in theoretical controversy to their antecedents. Some seminal contributions which introduced important issues into the evolving theory of transference are highlighted; this is followed by a brief outline of the ideas of a representative sample of current theorists. This comparison of the appearance of fundamental evolutionary modifications of transference theory with present-day differences in theoretical emphasis leads to the identification of four persistent themes: (1) the nature of the influence of the patient's relationship with the analyst in the analytic experience, (2) how to account for the analyst's subjectivity and its role in the analytic process, (3) what weight to assign to the interpersonal dimension of the transference, and (4) differences among theoretical perspectives as reflected in the precise content of transference interpretations. Difficulties in the path of comparative evaluation of differences in theoretical accounts of the transference and its handling are noted. A few reasons for my adherence to the theory I prefer are mentioned solely for the purpose of underlining areas of controversy that require serious attention and further clarification.

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