Chapter 3
Strategies of transference

In a small, seemingly futile passage on the termination of analysis in
‘On Beginning the Treatment’, Freud confessed that since the start of his
psychoanalytic career he had noticed a remarkable change in his patients’
attitudes towards the progression of their analysis:


In the early years of my psychoanalytic practice I used to have the
greatest difficulty in prevailing on my patients to continue their
analysis. This difficulty has long since been shifted, and I now
have to take the greatest pains to induce them to give up.
(Freud 1913c:130)


Freud did not clarify the mainspring of this problem, but numerous
examples can be adduced to demonstrate that the entire issue was
dominated by the vicissitudes of transference.


For instance, shortly before publishing ‘On Beginning the Treatment’,
Freud had informed Sandor Ferenczi about his ticklish experience with
Elma Palos, whom he had agreed to treat for a short period of about
three months, until Easter 1912:

譬如,就在出版“治疗的开始”不久之前,弗洛伊德曾经告知费伦奇,关于他跟爱玛 帕洛思的神经质的经验。弗洛伊德曾经同意治疗帕洛思,经过大约三个月的简短时期。

With Elma things continue to go gloomily. She has brought out
several quite surprisingly intelligent insights, but she doesn’t want
to get into the experience with you and doesn’t seem to want to
finish with me; i.e., because of the transference she wishes to extend
her stay past Easter, which I don’t want to do. So I am cooling off
noticeably again.
(Brabant et al. 1993:362)


This was neither Freud’s first encounter with a patient reluctant to leave,
nor was it the first time he attributed the phenomenon to the power of
transference. In April 1900, at a moment when he was still groping his
way as to the nature and function of the transference, Freud had already
told Wilhelm Flies about its effect on the duration of his analysis of a
certain Mr E:


I am beginning to understand that the apparent endlessness of the
treatment is something that occurs regularly and is connected with
the transference…The asymptotic conclusion of the treatment
basically makes no difference to me, but is yet one more
disappointment to outsiders…Since he had to suffer through all
my technical and theoretical errors, I actually think that a future
case could be solved in half the time.
(Masson 1985:409)


Freud did not have to wait long to test the value of his assertion, for
some six months later an eighteen-year-old hysterical girl suffering from
a welter of psychic and somatic symptoms was referred to him by her
father (ibid.: 427). Compared to Mr E’s treatment, which lasted for more
than a year, Freud’s analysis of Dora (Freud 1905e[1901]) took a mere
three months. This could be seen as an even better result than that which
Freud had anticipated in his letter to Flies, were it not for the fact that
the girl herself decided to break off her analysis before reaching a
satisfactory solution of her problems.1

弗洛伊德并没有等待很久,他就测试他的主张的价值。经过大约六根月之后,一位十八岁的癔症的女孩,遭受心灵与肉体的症状的翻滚。她的父亲带她去就诊弗洛伊德。跟E 先生延续一年多的治疗比较起来,弗洛伊德对于朵拉的精神分析,仅是花费三个月。这能够被视为是具有更佳的结果,比起弗洛伊德曾经写信给弗利兹所预期的结果。假如不是因为这个事实:女孩自己决的要中断她的精神分析,这样,她才能获得她的难题的令人满意的解决。

Again Freud felt that he had made
a technical and theoretical error, and again he regarded his patient’s
behaviour as the corollary of her ‘transferences’ [sic], clinical phenomena
encompassing ‘new editions or facsimiles of the impulses and phantasies
which are aroused and made conscious during the progress of analysis’
whereby the patient replaces ‘some earlier person by the person of the
physician’ (ibid.: 116). On the one hand Freud conceded that he must
have been blinded by Dora’s diligence, not seeing that her identification
of him with the dreaded Mr K fuelled her desire to take revenge. On the
other hand he ventured the hypothesis that his technical mistake must
have been rooted in a failure to direct Dora’s attention to her unconscious
homosexual love for Mrs K.2 Whatever the nature of Freud’s mistake,
Dora’s transference did not catalyse an interminable analytic process,
but prompted her to finish the treatment prematurely.

而且,弗洛伊德感觉,他曾经犯了一个技术与理论的错误。再次,他将他的病人的行为,视为是她的 移情的必然结果。这些临床的现象涵盖冲动与幻想的新版的拷贝。在精神分析的进展期间,这些冲动与幻想被召唤出来,而且被知道。凭借精神分析,病人用医生这个人物,取代某位早先的人物。在一方面,弗洛伊德承认,他当时一定对于朵拉的勤勉视而不见,他才没有看见,她对他的认同,其实对可恨的K先生的认同。这激发起她想要报复的欲望。在另一方面,弗洛伊德冒险提出假设:他的技术性的错误当时一定是根源于他没有办法引导朵拉注意她的无意识的同性恋的爱,对于K太太。无论弗洛伊德的错误的特性是什么,朵拉的移情,并没有触发一个没有终止的精神分析的过程。而是激发她过早地结束这个治疗。

Years later, Freud applied what he had learnt from the Dora case in his
treatment of another eighteen-year-old girl (Freud 1920a). Like Dora, this
girl had expressed a desire to kill herself. Much like Dora’s, her parents
had become so upset with her demeanour that they decided to seek Freud’s
help. And in keeping with Dora’s erotic interest, albeit more overtly, this
girl’s homosexual orientation underpinned many of her symptoms. When
the girl produced a series of dreams in which she featured as a happily
married mother, Freud declared that she merely wanted to deceive him, in
line with her long-established habit of betraying her father.


acknowledged the girl’s hostility towards her father and her concurrent
unconscious animosity towards himself as a father representative, Freud
subsequently ended the treatment on his own initiative, insisting that the
girl continue her analysis with a female analyst. By pinpointing the
deceitfulness of his patient’s productions and by effectively dropping his
patient before she had the opportunity to leave her analyst, Freud was
eager to avoid a retake of the Dora case. Yet once again the transference —
in this case an unconscious negative attitude towards the father—proved
decisive in light of the continuation of the analytic process.


A first conclusion to be drawn from Freud’s remarks on transference
is that its manifestation can lead to the analysis becoming either
unpursuable or interminable. Owing to this strong connection between
transference and the duration of psychoanalytic treatment, Lacan
proclaimed in Seminar I that ‘one can say that the transference is the
very concept of analysis, because it is the time of analysis’ (Lacan 1988b


Here the question emerges whether the analyst’s ‘management’ of
the transference or something in the nature of transference itself decides
over the continuation of the analytic process. Freud’s comments on his
technical mistakes in the Dora case strongly support the former option,
whereas his position in the treatment of the young homosexual woman
seems to endorse the latter. The same ambiguity pervades Freud’s
theoretical discussions of transference in his papers on technique and
the introductory lectures on psychoanalysis.


For example, in ‘The
Dynamics of Transference’ he noted: ‘Where the capacity for transference
has become essentially limited to a negative one, as is the case with
paranoiacs, there ceases to be any possibility of influence or cure’ (Freud
1912b:107). A different account, implicitly underscoring the analyst’s
power over the transference, appeared in the paper on transference-love:
‘No doctor who experiences this [the patient’s falling in love] for the
first time will find it easy to retain his grasp on the analytic situation and
to keep clear of the illusion that the treatment is really at an end’ (Freud
1915a[1914]:162, italics added).


It seems that for Freud the clue to the entire question lay in the
differential faces of the transference. The mild positive, conscious face
of transference is beneficial for the continuation of analysis, whereas its
resistance face, epitomized by the analy sand’s unconscious negative,
hostile or intensely erotic feelings towards the analyst, is a recipe for
disaster, unless the analyst manages to explain their infantile origin to
the analysand (Freud 1916–17a[1915–17]:444; 1940a[1938]:174–177).


Because he regarded the analy sand’s feelings in the (hostile or erotic)
transference as a blueprint of a repressed unconscious pattern (Freud
1910a[1909]:50–51), Freud defined the analyst’s task accordingly as
overcoming the aspect of repetition controlling the transference and
opening the psychic avenues of remembering (Freud 1926e:226–228).4
In his re-reading of Freud’s technical papers during the early 1950s,
Lacan progressively exchanged the two constitutive axes (positive,
negative vs. conscious, unconscious) of Freud’s taxonomy of transference
for a structural classification embedded in his own distinction between
the imaginary and the symbolic (Lacan 1988b[1953–54]:284).

emphasizing the imaginary and symbolic dimensions of transference
Lacan at once endeavoured to solve the Freudian riddle why transference
is simultaneously the engine of psychoanalytic treatment and the strongest
weapon of resistance (ibid.: 284). To Lacan this clinical puzzle could
not be brought to a satisfactory conclusion by merely relying on the
faces of transference; it required entering into the dialectics of the
imaginary and the symbolic.

当拉康强调移情的想像与象征的维度,他立即尝试解决弗洛伊德的谜团: 为什么移情同时是精神分析治疗的引擎。而且是最强烈的抗拒的武器。对于拉康,这个临床的谜团无法被带到令人满意的结论,凭借仅是依靠移情的脸孔。它要求进入想像界与象征界的辩证法。

Consequently, whereas Freud had predicated
the continuation of analysis on the analyst’s ability to handle the
inherently detrimental faces of transference by exposing their roots in a
repressed, infantile conflict, Lacan emphasized that the analyst’s duty
consisted in guaranteeing that the transference does not disintegrate into
an imaginary relationship of jealousy, rivalry and competition. At the
same time Lacan did not discard the qualities of love and hate within the
transference. On the contrary, he argued that love and hate are the two
central constituents of both symbolic and imaginary transference, with
the caveat that they cannot operate without an additional, generally
neglected factor of ignorance


Apart from the question as to how transference influences the
continuation of analysis (with respect to its differential form or in keeping
with the analyst’s handling of it), Freud was also intrigued by the origin
of transference. Is it a phenomenon elicited by the conditions of
psychoanalytic treatment or something proceeding from a natural
disposition in neurotic people? If it is triggered by psychoanalysis itself,
should it be attributed to the person of the analyst or to the singularity of
the analytic procedures? And if it can be explained through the analytic
procedures, which of its components are most significant?


Freud broached these questions in many of his writings without
formulating consistent answers.5 In the Dora case he championed the
view that transference is ‘an inevitable necessity’, not created by
psychoanalysis but merely brought to light as part of the analytic
revelation of the patient’s unconscious tendencies (Freud


He rehearsed this view in ‘The Dynamics of
Transference’, at once challenging the idea that transference is an
exclusively psychoanalytic phenomenon (Freud 1912b:101). Yet soon
after, in his essay on transference love, Freud balanced towards the other
alternative: ‘He [the analyst] must recognize that the patient’s falling in
love is induced by the analytic situation and is not to be attributed to the
charms of his own person’ (Freud 1915a[1914]: 160–161).


But the
explanation Freud had given in the Dora case resurfaced in his
‘Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis’: ‘[W]e must… recognize
that we are dealing with a phenomenon which is intimately bound up
with the nature of the illness itself…[W]e do not believe that the situation
in the treatment could justify the development of such feelings’, although
‘the opportunity offered by the analytic treatment’ enables the patient to
transfer these feelings onto the analyst (Freud 1916–17a[1915–17]:442).


Compared to Freud’s, Lacan’s take on the source of transference was
at the same time less ambiguous and more radical. Reassessing Freud’s
conduct in the Dora case, Lacan averred that transference—here to be
understood in its pernicious, imaginary side—‘always has the same
direction, of indicating the moments of error and orientation of the
analyst’ (Lacan 1982a[1951]:72, translation modified).


he also held the analyst to play a crucial part in the emergence of the
symbolic transference, not simply by allowing the analysand to mistake
him for somebody else, nor by introducing the rule of free association,
but by embodying the function of supposed subject of knowing.


Repudiating the idea that transference is the spontaneous outcome of a
presumed neurotic disposition, Lacan thus argued that it is evoked by
the analytic setting, notably by the analyst’s own implication.6
Since the analyst is de facto implied in the transference, whatever its
form and structure, Lacan went on to state that countertransference is not
an analytic evil, but a necessary counterpart of the analysand’s transference
(Lacan 1991b[1960–61]:233).


On Lacan’s account, the notion of
countertransference ought not be employed as an umbrella for the analyst’s
technical failures, but as a concept conveying the unavoidable implication
of the analyst in the analysand’s transference.7 Instead of assigning the
transference to the quirks of the neurotic condition or to the artificiality of
the analytic setting, Lacan defended the analyst’s responsibility within the
entire process, eventually summarizing his point provocatively in the
formula that there is only one transference in psychoanalysis, namely that
of the analyst (Lacan 1973–74: session of 19 March 1974).


The analyst’s essential share in the analysand’s transference also
emboldened Lacan during the early 1960s to reject Freud’s frequent
alignment of transference and repetition.8 Although he himself had
supported this equivalence during the 1950s, Lacan gradually realized
that seeing transference as a pure repetition of an ancient, repressed
infantile conflict, i.e. as something completely alien to the analyst’s
position, not only reduced the analyst’s responsibility for the direction
of the treatment, but also restricted her capacity for manipulating the
transference (Lacan 1962–63: session of 9 January 1963). As I will
demonstrate in the succeeding sections of this chapter, this inevitable
implication of the analyst in the analysand’s transference was not the
only factor motivating Lacan’s separation of transference and repetition,
but it was definitely the most clinically informed one.


Thus far I have presented two series of questions emanating from
Freud’s scattered glosses on transference: ‘How does transference affect
the continuation (the time) of psychoanalytic treatment?’, and ‘Where
does transference stem from?’. A third, even more contentious issue can
be added to this list, that hinges on the differentiation of transference
and suggestion.


If the analysand’s mild positive transference constitutes
a guarantee for psychoanalytic success (at least in Freud’s conception of
the treatment), how can the effects of psychoanalysis be distinguished
from those obtained by suggestion within traditional forms of hypnosis
and other healing practices? And if analysts are supposed to take
advantage of the analysand’s mild positive transference, curbing all its
complementary forms of expression, in order to obtain the desired results,
to what extent do they act upon a position of power and what prevents
them from abusing the power relegated to them?


In ‘The Dynamics of Transference’ Freud did not eschew the proposition
that ‘the results of psychoanalysis rest upon suggestion’, if suggestion
means that one person is being influenced by another (Freud 1912b:106).


Developing this point further in his ‘Introductory Lectures on Psycho-
Analysis’, he impressed on his audience that a patient’s ‘tendency to
transference’ (Ubertragungsneigung) is synonymous with Bernheim’s
notion of suggestibility if only its realm of action is extended to include
negative feelings, and provided one is prepared to acknowledge the libidinal
engine of this suggestibility (Freud 1916–17a[1915–17]:446).9 Faced with
the objection that this inextricable link between transference and suggestion
undermines the originality of the psychoanalytic edifice and might
contribute to its deterioration, Freud subsequently nuanced his opinion,
drawing attention to a dual gulf separating direct hypnotic and
psychoanalytic suggestion.

拉康更进一步发展这一点,在他的”论精神分析的导论“。他给予他的听众这个印象: 病人的倾向于移情,等于是同义词,跟伯罕姆的暗示的观念,只是它的行动的领域被延伸到包含负面的感觉。只要我们准备承认这个暗示的力比多的引擎。当弗洛伊德面临这个反对意见:移情与暗示之间的这个可以挣脱的联结,逐渐损坏精神分析技术的原创性,并且可能促成它的恶化。弗洛伊德随后更详细说明这个意见,提醒注意有一个双重鸿沟,将直接的催眠与精神分析的暗示区分开。

First of all he claimed that contrary to hypnotic
procedures, the analytic modus operandi is not geared towards covering
up the patient’s problems with additional layers of mental strength, even
less towards the prohibition of symptoms. Instead it seeks to rid the
analysands of their symptoms by exposing their underlying conflicts (ibid.:
450–451).10 Second, and more importantly, Freud stressed that whatever
remains of the suggestive influence of the analyst’s interventions is bound
to perish under the weight of analysis itself: ‘In every other kind of
suggestive treatment the transference is carefully preserved and left
untouched; in analysis it is itself subjected to treatment and is dissected in
all the shapes in which it appears’ (ibid.: 453).


Not convinced by Freud’s arguments, Lacan remained adamant that
transference and suggestion ought to be kept separate if the analyst is to
steer away from a surreptitious abuse of power.11 In his Seminar V he
pointed out that analysts have an ever-looming suggestive influence over
their patients by virtue of their transference, which is being abused
whenever they take advantage of it, whether to satisfy their patients’
demands, to force an interpretation, or to present themselves as reliable,
competent analysts with whom it is worth identifying (Lacan 1998b


Of course, the upshot of Lacan’s idea was that
psychoanalytic interventions which do not encompass an element of
suggestion are extremely difficult to define, especially when taking into
account that the analysts’ mere presence could be regarded as a suggestive
fulfilment of the analysands’ demand that they be there. Lacan tried to
escape this clinical impasse for each of the three levels in his schema of
the direction of the treatment: the politics of the analyst, the strategies of
transference and the tactics of interpretation (Lacan 1977i[1958]).12


First, as I have explained in the previous chapter, he intimated that
the analyst’s position must be characterized both by the death of the ego
and the disbeing of the object a. Second, with respect to the contents of
an interpretation, Lacan replaced the analyst’s mandatory full speech
with the essential ambiguity and nonsensicality of his expressions.13
Finally, on the level of transference, he exposed the widespread analytic
practice of interpreting the transference, whereby its infantile sources
are revealed to the analysand, as a vicious circle:


[T]his interpretation, if he [the analyst] gives it, will be received as
coming from the person that the transference imputes him to be. Will
he [the analyst] agree to benefit from this error concerning his person?
Analytic morals do not contradict this, on condition that the
analyst interprets this effect, otherwise the analysis will
amount to little more than a crude suggestion. An
incontestable option, except that the analyst’s words will still
be heard as coming from the Other of the transference, the
subject’s way out of the transference thus being postponed
ad infinitum.
(ibid.: 231, translation modified)


Transcending the inappropriate, inherently suggestive interpretation of
the transference, Lacan ensuingly deployed the principles of a genuine
analysis of and interpretation within the transference, predicated on its
calculated manipulation by the analyst in light of the downfall of the
supposed subject of knowing (Lacan 1967–68: session of 10 January


The above three issues, which cover the relationship between
transference and the continuation of the treatment, the origin of
transference, and the relation between transference and suggestion, arise
from three clinical problems in Freud’s oeuvre and represent three central
concerns within Lacan’s theory of transference. Although continuously
in touch with the letter of Freud’s writings, Lacan sought to advance the
founder’s theory of transference by reformulating these problems and
introducing new concepts.


In the following sections of this chapter I will
detail these reformulations and new concepts, mapping the evolution of
Lacan’s own views between the early 1950s and the late 1960s, when
his exploration of transference reached its zenith.14 In this way, I hope to
show that Lacan’s theory of transference is neither ‘characterized by
obscurity and linguistic play’, nor ‘leaves one uncertain as to his actual
technical approach’ (Esman 1990:12).



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