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Strean, H.S. (1979-80). The Unanalyzed “Positive Transference” and the Need for Reanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 66(4):493-506.

(1979-80). Psychoanalytic Review, 66(4):493-506

The Unanalyzed “Positive Transference” and the Need for Reanalysis

Herbert S. Strean, D.S.W.

In one of his last writings, “Analysis Terminable & Interminable,” Freud6 enumerated some of the conditions for termination of psychoanalysis: the patient has to have lost all symptoms, inhibitions, and anxieties; repressions have to be undone, and the blank spots caused by infantile amnesia have to be filled out; the childhood history has to be reconstructed and, most important, as a means to these ends, the transference has to be resolved.

Freud, in explicating the conditions for termination, was rather pessimistic about the possibility of helping analytic patients achieve sustained happiness. He enumerated a number of elements that frustrate therapeutic efforts such as the intensity of instincts, ego weakness, the stickiness of the libido, and an unwillingness to give up once cathected objects. He also called attention to the human being's propensity to feel that the “grass is always greener on the other side” in that many men analysands cling to the fantasy for a long time that a woman's life might be better, and many women patients find it difficult to renounce their wish for a penis. Indeed, Freud was so pessimistic about the outcome of analysis that one of his statements about the results of analysis is not too frequently quoted by contemporary analysts, namely, that the aim of analysis is to substitute neurotic suffering with common misery. He even went so far as to aver that psychoanalysis does no more for the neurotic than the normal person accomplishes alone.6

Despite Freud's pessimism, he emphasized that the conditions for failure of analysis should be studied more thoroughly.

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