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Racker, H. (1954). Notes on the Theory of Transference. Psychoanal Q., 23:78-86.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:78-86

Notes on the Theory of Transference

Heinrich Racker, Ph.D.

The following pages contain some considerations on the dynamics of transference and the part it plays in the psychoanalytic process. I do not claim to say anything essentially new, but endeavor to clarify the theoretical basis of certain ideas that in practice are accepted and utilized by many analysts.


Freud (1) deals with the problem of the dynamics of transference from two points of view: first, transference in general and its causes, and second, transference in psychoanalytic treatment and the reasons for the special intensity it there assumes. He gives two causes for transference in general, (a) the fact that every person acquires in childhood certain characteristic ways of 'living his love', from which arise patterns regularly repeated throughout his life, and (b) the fact that lack of libidinal satisfaction, caused by unconscious fixations, creates a libidinal need and expectancy which is directed toward the persons he meets. The special part played by transference in psychoanalytic treatment is to be explained, according to Freud, by its relation to resistance. The transference becomes so intense and long-lasting because it serves the resistance; the analysand reproduces and acts upon his unconscious impulses in order not to 'remember' them.

Everyday analytic experience corroborates Freud. But one may ask whether the relationship between transference and resistance discovered by Freud is the only one, whether other factors besides resistance influence analytic transference, and whether analytic is distinguished from general transference by other characteristics in addition to greater intensity.

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