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Stolorow, R.D. (1988). Transference and the Therapeutic Process. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(2):245-254.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(2):245-254

Transference and the Therapeutic Process

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D.

In an excellent historical survey, Lawrence Friedman (1978) traced the vicissitudes of the psychoanalytic theory of cure from Freud's writings on the subject to the views of contemporary thinkers. Emerging from Friedman's review were three factors that Freud believed to be important in achieving therapeutic benefits: (1) the provision of cognitive insight; (2) the affective bond to the analyst; and (3) the integration of formerly dissociated experiential contents. Friedman detected throughout Freud's work on the process of treatment a “running battle” between the respective claims of the first two of these factors, although, Friedman noted, “when one looks more closely one sees that it is not equal combat, but a struggle for survival on the part of understanding [that is, cognitive insight]” (p. 526). In 1938, for example, Freud pointed to the positive transference as the most important curative agent.

Friedman's study demonstrates that subsequent discourse on the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis has been characterized by a continuation of this “running battle” between the respective claims of intellectual insight and affective attachment. Participants in the Marienbad Symposium on the Theory of Therapeutic Results in Psychoanalysis in 1936, for example, readily accepted Strachey's (1937) ideas about the introjection of the analyst's benign attitudes into the patient's superego functioning, a formulation that clearly placed the accent on the affective bond with the analyst and its internalization by the patient.

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