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Varga, M.P. (2005). Analysis of Transference as Transformation of Enactment. Psychoanal. Rev., 92(5):659-674.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Review, 92(5):659-674

Analysis of Transference as Transformation of Enactment

Michael P. Varga, Ph.D.

In the course of conducting hypnosis to resolve his patients' hysterical symptoms, Freud discovered that limits on their cooperation were set by their tendencies to transfer onto him sexual and/or negative feelings and attitudes related to significant others. Rather than allowing this to remain an obstacle, Freud seized on a brilliant, creative idea, which spawned a whole psychotherapeutic discipline, psychoanalysis: namely, that psychopathology could be most effectively resolved through analyzing this transference onto the analyst of pathogenic ideas and feelings. Implicit in this approach from the beginning, and increasingly clear and explicit via recent theoretical advances, is that analysis of transference is a complex transformational process, entailing the analyst's interactive, intersubjective engagement with the patient.

The classic formulation of analysis of transference as a complex transformational process is that of Strachey (1934). The analyst is seen as providing transformation by way of interrupting the patient's “neurotic vicious circle” through “mutative transference interpretation” (p. 346). In essence, the patient's transference toward the analyst is conceptualized as a superego projection onto the analyst. To the extent that the analyst responds to this projection with understanding, conveyed through a transference interpretation, rather than reacting in a way that confirms the projection, the patient introjects the understanding attitude of the analyst as a modification of his superego.

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