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Jelliffe, S.E. (1916). Technique of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 3(3):254-271.

(1916). Psychoanalytic Review, 3(3):254-271

Technique of Psychoanalysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe

A great deal might be said about signs of positive transference, but the analyst must always bear in mind the ambivalency of the unconscious as well as its egoism. A number of little indices may be recorded here. They are only suggestions.

There are literally thousands of apparently trivial things which show the internal workings of the patient's unconscious. Patients often come early. It usually indicates the positive side of the transference, just as persistent late coming points to the reverse. Sometimes the early coming is only a sign of extreme curiosity. It is frequent in the “little bird” type already discussed. Such patients often utilize the time spent in waiting to gain little impressions of the family-life, assuming one's office to be in one's own home. These they will utilize as resistance symbols in the further analysis. In the office the patients will often move their chair closer to the analyst's desk. They frequently will tap with their foot an object in contact with the chair or person of the analyst. They will pick up objects which he is apt to use, play with the blotters, or toy with the office scissors or paper cutter. These small signs must not be unobserved, nor must too much weight be given to them.

Patients will constantly leave things after the hour, sometimes to come back immediately or as a sign of positive transference. Handkerchiefs, gloves, purse, books, papers, overcoat, cane, umbrella, glasses, etc. The type of object left is at times of special moment.

It is worth while observing the dress of the patients, particularly of the woman. It is at times plainly indicative of positive transference and may be the first indication of too strong a transference, which can be controlled, with the aid of the dreams, and hence the more difficult phases of the situation outlined at the close of the last article avoided. It can also very easily point to negative transference and to resistances.


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