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Gottlieb, K.I. (1996). Essential Papers On Transference. Edited by Aaron H. Esman, M.D. New York/London: New York University Press, 1990. 540 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:431-438.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:431-438

Essential Papers On Transference. Edited by Aaron H. Esman, M.D. New York/London: New York University Press, 1990. 540 pp.

Review by:
Kenneth I. Gottlieb

In a recent seminar at our psychoanalytic institute, there was marked diversity of opinion regarding both the meaning and function of transference. Fewer than half the candidates saw any value in attending to “historical reality,” and many viewed transference more as a “creation” than a “discovery.” I suspect their views were representative of divergences within the current psychoanalytic community.

I thus looked to Aaron Esman's Essential Papers on Transference, a collection of twenty-nine papers spanning the history of psychoanalytic writing, for clues to how our concepts of transference have evolved (or at least changed) over the past century and whether there is reason to believe that, as analysts, we remain brothers (or sisters) under the skin.

Freud initially viewed transference as a resistance phenomenon that interfered with the recollection of early traumatic events, which, in turn, “constituted the true essence of the psychoanalytic process.” Later, he began to regard the transference as something unique within the analytic relationship, a new mental structure, created within the psychoanalytic situation, and he saw the “transference neurosis—a new edition of the infantile experience” as essential to analytic cure.

A number of themes have recurred since Freud's work: Do transference phenomena result especially from the analytic situation or are they omnipresent in all human relations? Do transference phenomena originate in earlier experiences or may they be created, de novo, in the analytic situation? Are transference interpretations different from other interpretations in kind or only in degree? Finally, are all patients' reactions to the analyst to be viewed as transference or is there an independent, “real,” non-neurotic relationship or “working alliance”?

The earlier analysts were more alike than dissimilar in their view of transference, rooting the transference phenomenon in early life experience and emphasizing its repetitive nature.

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