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Williams, P. (1997). ‘Interaction And Transference’ By Maria Ponsi. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1261-1267.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:1261-1267

‘Interaction And Transference’ By Maria Ponsi

Paul Williams

Maria Ponsi's paper ‘Interaction and transference’ is the fourth paper to be selected from the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis for pre-publication and e-mail discussion via the IJPA web site ( As is now customary, the paper was made available for downloading free of charge several weeks prior to its publication in the Journal, and an extensive discussion ensued.

Ponsi began her paper by marking the shift in emphasis from the classical psychoanalytic position of viewing the present as a means of discerning the past (via symptoms and the repetition compulsion) to a fundamentally different view of the past and thus of the function of transference; the past is today widely considered to be a vehicle for illuminating the present. An emphasis on the analysis of here-and-now states, including the changing mental state of the analyst, also constitutes a significant revision of the roles of patient and analyst and has drawn attention to the kinds of interaction that these roles generate. Ponsi suggested that many reconstructive statements in contemporary psychoanalysis across all schools revealed a concern with illuminating the nature of immediate experience. She cited the ‘hermeneutic’ and Kleinian models as examples: in the former, mutual construction of a meaningful narrative tends to subsume prior, historical versions, abolishing the distinction between here-and-now and there-and-then. In much of Kleinian thinking interest in the past is ‘ancestral’ as opposed to historical, extending to the earliest developmental phases, which are inscribed in and constructed by deep, primitive states in the present.

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