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Meltzer, D. (1974). Narcissistic Foundation of the Erotic Transference. Contemp. Psychoanal., 10:311-316.

(1974). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 10:311-316

Narcissistic Foundation of the Erotic Transference

Donald Meltzer, M.D.

THE CONCEPT of Oedipal conflict, even when taken at both part- and whole-object levels, coupled with powerful concepts such as zonal and geographical confusions, or recognized in terms of the powerful anxieties which drive the utilization of erotism as a defensive manoeuvre—this whole orchestration of the concept—does not seem adequate, in the sense of being able to cover the phenomenology at hand. My thesis is that the dynamic approach to the problem of erotization of the transference, and therefore the problem of a powerful type of resistance which lends itself too well to acting-out both in and out of the transference, does not adequately reveal the complexity of mental functioning, nor is interpretation along these lines successful in promoting working through.

In contrast, the structural consideration, especially that aspect of it which views narcissism and object relations from an organizational point of view and sees them deployed in constant conflict like "armies in the night, " their battles revealed by the flares of dreams, seems more satisfying intellectually and more potent in the consulting room. The aim of this paper is to illustrate this thesis with clinical material and to undertake some discussion with reference to the analytic literature, Freud's "Dora" in particular.


A young woman, intelligent and attractive, and probably gifted as an artist, came to analysis because of failure in her relations with men and a deteriorating relation to her professional field.

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