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Lehrman, S.R. (1959). A Note on Two Characteristics of Transference. Psychoanal Q., 28:379-381.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:379-381

A Note on Two Characteristics of Transference

Samuel R. Lehrman, M.D.

Two remarkable characteristics of positive transference—its persistence in accordance with the timelessness of the primary process, and the sexuality deriving from its libidinal origins—are well illustrated in two clinical anecdotes.

After a lapse of twenty years, two former patients sought me out with the apparent expectation, like Rip Van Winkle, of an unchanged relationship. Although transference is a phenomenon which the patient may apply indiscriminately to various figures in his environment, it is noteworthy that certain transference relationships are characterized by a lasting devotion which is of theoretical and technical interest. Real events play significant parts in the development of such transferences.

The first patient, a woman, telephoned and asked if I had interned at a certain hospital during a certain year. She was disappointed that I did not recognize her name. As an intern on the obstetric service, I had delivered her of a boy twenty-two years earlier and had attended her about ten days. She called, she said, to know whether it '… was all right for this son to marry a girl who had a curvature of the spine'. She based her objection to the impending marriage on the possibility of hereditary defects among offspring resulting from this union. Her family doctor had encouraged her to call me. I am unaware that the patient knew I am now a psychiatrist; undoubtedly her doctor did. She was ambivalent about visiting me and, as an evaluation by telephone was impossible, I recommended that she accept the opinion of her family doctor. She seemed reassured, thanked me, and said that she would like some day to stop in and see me.

A similar incident was related to me by a gynecologist. A woman, who gave no evidence of neurosis, vividly recalled that she had been examined by him twenty-four years earlier. That women have a special relationship to their obstetricians can be frequently observed in psychoanalytic practice.

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