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Makari, G.J. (1992). A History of Freud's First Concept of Transference. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 19:415-432.

(1992). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 19:415-432

A History of Freud's First Concept of Transference

George J. Makari


The author situates Freud's first concept of transference in the hypnotic discourse of fin-desiècle France and Germany, arguing that transference first developed from the debates on the inherent suggestibility of a hysteric. Charcot, in his work on hystero-traumatic paralyses, defined this inherent suggestibility as due to an internal auto-suggestion. Bernheim rejected this pathologizing notion and posited a universal credulity that made nearly anyone suggestible. The author discusses the powerful ramifications of both theories, and then turns to Freud's position in this debate. Like Charcot, Freud situated suggestibility in the lawful, internal and pathologic processes of the hysteric, and first explained their propensity to distort the world with the concept of auto-suggestion. However Freud would soon abandon hypnotic terminology and conceptualize an heir to auto-suggestion, which he termed "false connections". One specific type of false connexion became Freud's first concept of transference. The author discusses the new light this historical perspective casts on the beginnings of transference theory.

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