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Hoffer, A. (1993). Is Love in the Analytic Relationship “Real”?. Psychoanal. Inq., 13(4):343-356.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 13(4):343-356

Is Love in the Analytic Relationship “Real”?

Axel Hoffer, M.D.

In his analysis of dora, Freud (1905p. 116) wondered: “What are transferences?” His answer—“They are new editions or facsimiles”—raises questions highly relevant to recent shifts in psychoanalytic theory and technique. In what follows I consider three related questions:

Are positive transference and countertransference feelings imitations of true loving feelings or are they real?

What is the difference between a loving analytic relationship and an ordinary loving relationship?

What is the nature of the tension created in the analyst by the opposing tendencies of the relatively anonymous asymmetry in the analytic relationship and the self-revealing mutuality in an ordinary loving relationship?

Two quotations from Freud are immediately relevant: In discussing the analyst's response to the intense transference love of a female patient for a male analyst, he (1914) said: “It is, therefore, just as disastrous for the analysis if the patient's craving for love is gratified as if it is suppressed. The course the analyst must pursue is neither of these; it is one for which there is no model in real life” (p. 166). Two years later, in the context of neurotic symptom formation, Freud (1916-1917) wrote, “it is psychical reality which is the decisive kind” (p. 368).


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