Interface of Psychoanalysis and Psychology

By James W. Barron; Morris N. Eagle et al. | Go to book overview

23
TRANSFERENCE IN PSYCHOTHERAPY
AND DAILY LIFE:
IMPLICATIONS OF CURRENT MEMORY
AND SOCIAL COGNITION RESEARCH

JEFFERSON A. SINGER

JEROME L. SINGER

He who does not make the experiment ... will scarcely believe how much a few hours take from certainty of knowledge and distinctiveness of imagery; how the succession of objects will be broken, how separate parts will be confused, and how many particular features and discriminations will be compressed and conglobated into one gross and general idea. (Johnson, 1775/1985, p. 122)

The phenomenon of transference is one of the contributions of Freud that is likely to endure as a major discovery in behavioral science. At first observed by Freud as a specific feature of the psychoanalytic process, he soon came to realize that transferences, the hidden agendas based on childhood experience, which we all bring to each new social encounter, are an intrinsic feature of human interaction. This conception has deeply enriched our understanding of the complexity of even relatively minor social relations; it helps us to grasp what often seems puzzling in ongoing intimate relationships as well as in more casual encounters. Although Freud regarded the transference "as both the greatest danger and the greatest tool for analytic work" (Racker, 1988, p. 158), he also made clear his recognition of the importance of the phenomenon outside of the treatment process. He came to see transferences as a general human experience in which individuals bring longstanding wishes and conflicts into new adult interactions with spouses, co‐ workers, or authorities (Freud, 1912/1958, 1925/1959a, 1937/1959b).

____________________
Some of the research by the authors described in this chapter was conducted in connection with the Program on Conscious and Unconscious Mental Processes, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and was funded by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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