Lagache attempts a study of transference from the point of view of the psychology of behavior, with special reference to the discoveries of experimental psychology concerning learning and relationships among individuals. Freud initially emphasized in The Dynamics of the Transference, 1912, that repetitive acting out takes the place of remembering and that frustrated and repressed tendencies possess a 'readiness for transference'; later, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, he emphasized the compulsive character of this repetition.
The traditional definition of transference as essentially a displacement to the analyst of friendly, hostile, and ambivalent emotions is expanded by considering this displacement only one part of a whole cycle of behavior in which motivation, methods, goal, object, and effects are important and specific. The significance or function of the behavior gives to these separate parts of behavior a common direction. Transference, therefore, is not a need to repeat; or at least it is something more than that. It is the reactivation in the psychoanalytic situation of an unsolved conflict which evokes an unconscious demand for reparation. Experimental evidence tends to link repetition with motivation; the Zeigarnik effect (1927), for example, illustrates the fact that unfinished tasks are more easily remembered and more easily reverted to.
The classification of transference as positive or negative does not, accordingly, depend upon the quality of the emotion experienced in relation to the analyst; rather, the positive or negative effects of the transference can be established by evaluating its effect on the learning of the fundamental rule. Negative transference corresponds to the prevalence of the defensive habits of the ego, while positive transference corresponds to the formation of new habits based upon repressed needs and emotions and upon the attainment of an optimum level of tension.
The author suggests that the concept of the psychoanalytic field created by the interaction of the psychoanalyst and the patient differs from the classical freudian simile of the analyst as a mirror. Transference, when it is described as a spontaneous phenomenon attributable to the patient and explained in terms of his personality, can be discussed in terms of the psychology of the relationships of individuals. The 'negative' traits of the analyst's role (such as his silence and passivity) should really be considered 'positive', for by them the analyst creates certain positive conditions, among which frustration is outstanding. The author concludes that the successive regressions that become evident in the evolution of transference are induced in part by the frustrations imposed by the analyst, an idea supported by the importance Freud attributes to the rule of abstinence in controlling the motivation of the patient and the progress of his treatment.
- 607 -
Waldhorn, H.F. (1954). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953. Psychoanal. Q., 23:607-607