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Transference Neurosis is a term that Sigmund Freud introduced in 1914 to describe a new form of the analysand’s infantile neurosis, which develops during the psychoanalytic process . In Dora’s case history, Freud suggested that during therapy the creation of new symptoms stops, but new versions of the patient’s fantasies and impulses are generated. He called them “transferences” and he ascribed to them the characteristic of substituting a person from the past for the physician. According to his description: “a whole series of psychological experiences are revived not as belonging to the past, but as applying to the person of the physician at the present moment” . When the TN has developed, the relationship with the therapist becomes the most important one for the patient, who directs strong infantile feelings and conflicts towards him . For example, the patient may react as if the analyst is his/her father.
TN can be distinguished from other kinds of transference because:
- It is very vivid and it rekindles the infantile neurosis.
- It is generated by the feelings of frustration that the analysand inevitably experiences during sessions, since the analyst does not fulfill the analysand’s longings.
- In TN the symptoms are not stable, but they are transformed.
- Regression and repetition play a key role in the creation of TN.
- TN reveals the particular meanings that the analysand has given to current infantile relationships and events that are important and generate internal conflicts between wishes and particular defenses formed to strive against them. These meanings are united and create several transference patterns .
Resolution of T.N.
Once the TN has developed, it leads to a form of resistance, called “transference resistance”. At this point, the analysis of transference becomes a difficult task, since new obstacles arise in therapy: the analysand may insist on fulfilling the infantile wishes emerged in transference or may refuse to acknowledge that the current experience is, in fact, a reproduction of a past experience and not a new one. However, the successful resolution of TN through interpretations will lead to the lifting of repression and will enable the Ego to solve the infantile conflicts in new ways . Furthermore, it will allow the analysand to recognize that the current relationship with the analyst is based on repetition of childhood experiences. Thus, the analysis of TN entails the detachment of the patient from the analyst .
The replacement of the infantile neurosis by transference neurosis and its resolution through interpretations remains the main focus of the classical psychoanalytic therapy. In other types of therapy, either T.N. has not a central role or it does not develop at all . Although it is more likely for TN to develop in analysis, where the sessions are more frequent, it may also appear during psychotherapy.
- Sigmund Freud, “Case Histories 1 – Dora and Little Hans”, The Penguin Freud Library, Volume 8, 1990.
- R. Horacio Etchegoyen, “The Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique”, Karnac Books, London, 1991.
- Richard D. Chessick, “Psychoanalytic Peregrinations I: Transference and Transference Neurosis Revisited”, Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 30(1), 83-97, 2002.
- W. W. Meissner, “A Note on Transference and Alliance: I. Transference – Variations on a Theme”, Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Spring 2001.
- "Transference Neurosis" International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. The Gale Group, Inc, 2005. Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/transference-neurosis.
- "Resolution of the Transference" International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. The Gale Group, Inc, 2005. Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/resolution-of-the-transference.
- Stephen A. Mitchell, Margaret J. Black: “Freud and Beyond: a history of modern psychoanalytic thought». Basic Books, 1995.
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