Transference and Love Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

transference and transference love, as it is manifest in the psychoanalytic environment. Different therapists have recommended different methods of dealing with this love, which range from simple, knowing transference to idealized transference, and erotic transference. These range from exploring such issues verbally, to the use of surrogates for sex therapy, to sexual involvement with patients. Certain factions within the therapeutic community advocate some or none of these methodologies.

Answering his own question, "What are transferences?" he wrote: "A whole series of psychological experiences are revived, not as belonging to the past, but as belonging to the person of the physician at the present moment.... Psychoanalytic treatment does not create transferences, it merely brings them to light.... Transference, which seems ordained to be the greatest obstacle to psychoanalysis, becomes its most powerful ally if its presence can be detected each time and explained to the person" (1895:116-120). Freud went on to note erotic manifestations of transference, which he deals with in his work on 'transference-love'in Observations on Transference-love (1915a), Freud comments on the paradox by which this form of transference is countered by resistance. However, it also offers the opportunity for "bringing all that is most deeply hidden in the patient's erotic life into her consciousness and therefore under her control" (1915a) through discovering the nature of the patient's most primitive object. It is obvious, however, that Freud had his groupies, as there was a certain brand of women "accessible only to the logic of soup, with dumplings for arguments" -- a rather unfortunate metaphor for those patients whom today we would describe as not sufficiently "psychologically minded." Freud prompted his audience of practitioners against the dangers of counter-transference, in which the therapist reacts to emotions related to transference in his or her patients. Later therapists established that these could be reciprocal or could even result in reprehension or disgust.

When Freud practiced psychotherapy in the early decades of the 20th century, he noted that his attentiveness to patients' needs and problems would illicit a positive response from his patients. He first used the word transference in 1895, in Studies on Hysteria, where he described transference as a "false connection" (Freud, 1895:302). The relationship between transference and love is far from well-defined. This is because the range of feelings harbored by one experiencing some manner of transference can be expected to be at least partially hidden from the analyst, if not from the patient as transference is usually unwitting and subconscious. Given this knowledge, transference could result in love even if this is not realized immediately by the analyst or the patient.

In The Dynamics of Transference (1912) Freud went on to distinguish positive from negative transferences; he then subdivided positive transferences into conscious, friendly, or affectionate feelings and unconscious, erotic positive feelings. For instance, a patient may feel that she is able to get along with her therapist in that he reminds her of a mentor from her childhood; she also can be unwittingly responding to simmilar sensory perceptions that accompanied a previous love interest. Whereas Freud considered positive, conscious transferences as aspects of a therapist-patient relationship that was conducive to recovery in that it built trust and respect; he described these feelings as admissible to consciousness and unobjectionable, persists and is the vehicle of success in psychoanalysis exactly as it is in other methods of treatment" (p. 105).

Freud believed that transference resulted from compulsive repetition. "The patient is obliged to report present material as a contemporary experience instead of, as the physician would prefer to see, remembering it as something belonging to the past. These reproductions... are invariably acted out in the sphere of the transference" (Freud 1920:18). He felt that the subject forgot the original object of strong emotions but that the process of creating these strong emotions remained with the patient. This made the analyst the new object of past libidinal interest.

To refer to this transference as 'love' would be to make several key assumptions about the nature of love. It is to say that love is not only the response to stimuli provided by an external source, but that the essential nature of this source that caused the transference was the perception of a recurring positive relationship. In that the conscience is unable to rule this out as merely a 'professional' relationship, it assigns sexual attractions to the psychoanalyst due to the subconscious need for another person. It can be said that a feeling chooses an object rather than having been inspired by the object.

In 1936, Anna Freud enumerated several transference phenomena, including the transference of libidinal impulses, essentially transference as viewed by Freud. Intense feelings of love, hate or anxiety, inappropriate in the context of a therapeutic relationship, were felt towards the analyst, which she referred to as "eruptions of the id." Secondly, the transference of defense, was a manifestation of defenses against perceived threats are passed to the analyst. The third type of transference she said, was "acting in the transference." This was seen as a reflection between defense transferences and others.

Many analysts contested Freud's work; for instance, some said that a patient's communications as transference. (Strachey, 1934) Others confirm that Freud is correct in assuming that transferrence is not restricted to the relationship between the analyst and the patient. This is especially evident in the way that neglected children relate to members of the opposite sex, which I will discuss at length later. Some contend that such matters are of a different nature altogether, and that transference itself should be limited to the experience of analysts who are affected by this through their patients. Robert Waelder (1956) says: "Transference may be said to be an attempt of the patient to revive and reenact in the analytic situation and in relation to the analyst, situations and fantasies of his childhood.... Transference develops in consequence of the conditions of the analytic experiment, viz., of the analytic situation and the analytic technique" (1956: 367). In that a significant portion of any subjects relationships can be related to early familial situations, one might assume that transference is more specific to the professional environment than the name expressly implies.

Rudolph Loewenstein argues that psychoanalyisis is so unique in terms of relationship between psychoanalyst and patient that, although transferences do occur in a non-analytical environment, that those prompted by the analytical environment are of a separate nature; "In brief, transference in analysis is not identical with kindred phenomena outside it" (1969: 585). It might be argued that this is a semantic argument predicated on what Freud meant when he described a certain situation. In that the analyst has more direct experience with transference in the analytic environment than he or she does as a non-analyst, the discernment of the exact nature of the difference presents itself as a daunting prospect.

Greenson defined transference as "the experiencing of feelings, drives, attitudes, fantasies, and defenses toward a person in the present which do not befit that person, but are a repetition of reactions originating in regard to significant persons of early childhood, unconsciously displaced onto figures in the present" (Greenson 1967: 155).

Therefore, transference may be described in terms of displaced emotions, but is specific to people and to the early childhood with respect to what emotions are being transferred. If seen outside the context of people and expanded beyond early childhood, we can see this phenomenon everywhere in human society; for instance, when one chooses to adopt a new religion or develops a political philosophy, he or she often takes the seminal values or ideas created earlier and transfers them, such as the focus on Christian 'selflessness' that one finds prominent in communist thought.

The ability to transfer emotions from one could be biological in nature, as animals that 'imprint' on one particular animal such as birds do jeopardize their survival by assuming the risks of the other animal. This is characteristic of human sexual behavior; whereas one may have several partners throughout his or her life, it is usually the case that humans consider themselves to be 'in love' with one person at a time. Human emotions such as love or owed ness, usually felt towards family, friends, and love interests, can be just as easily transferred to pets. This is the largest reason why psychiatrists to have found pet ownership to be therapeutic; a pet listens and provides attention in much the same way that a psychoanalyst does.

Recent opinions on transference have been more circumspect, negating the absolutist maxim that perceptions of others that are faulty are always based on transferred emotions; "The proportions in which the patient's experience of the relationship is determined by the past, or the present, vary widely and may change markedly from point to point in the analysis. But the idea of an attitude determined solely either by the past or by the present is an abstraction.... No matter how inappropriate behavior is, it has some relation to the present, and no matter how appropriate it…

Sources Used in Documents:


Winnicott, D.W. (1960). "Countertransference." British Journal of Medical Psychology, 33, 17-21.

Balint, M. (1965). Primary love and psychoanalytic technique. London: Tavistock.

Reich, A. (1951). "On countertransference." International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 32, 25-31.

Loewenstein, R.M. (1969). "Developments in the theory of transference in the last fifty years." International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 50, 583-588.

Cite This Term Paper:

"Transference And Love" (2003, May 25) Retrieved August 9, 2020, from

"Transference And Love" 25 May 2003. Web.9 August. 2020. <>

"Transference And Love", 25 May 2003, Accessed.9 August. 2020,