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Gould, E. Rosenberger, J. (1994). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 14(4):477-482.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 14(4):477-482


Edith Gould, M.S. and Judith Rosenberger, Ph.D.

The erotic transference provides a unique vantage point for viewing the contemporary psychoanalytic scene for many reasons. Drive theory accords infantile sexuality a central role. Classical instinct theory therefore supported the need to highlight erotic material and to view patients' demands for gratification and the vicissitudes of frustration in drive-derivative terms. However, if not all erotic material is seen as derivative of drives, how are we to understand the eruptions, in the clinical situation, of explicit erotic fantasies and their claims?

We believe that a major paradigm shift has taken place in the field of psychoanalysis that accords relationship a more central position than the pleasure principle. In the process of this paradigm shift, sexuality has been relegated to a more metaphorical position. Its role has become somewhat obscured, if not lost, in the theoretical shuffle. Still, from the point of view of direct clinical practice, sexuality has remained a primary motivator of behavior and an important dimension of transference. Therefore, we need to return to questions about the origin, meanings, and functions of manifestly erotic transference configurations.

In recent years, the multiple dimensions of the psychoanalytic relationship have come under theoretical and clinical scrutiny. Original and revisionist perspectives have emerged regarding the psychoanalytic relationship—in particular, the nature and uses of transference. Clinical theory has moved, in large measure, beyond the bounds of traditional notions of transference, in which the analyst is a blank screen upon which the patient projects endogenously generated sexual and aggressive impulses and fantasies.

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