Transference

Brigid Brophy

  • Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession by Janet Malcolm
    Picador, 174 pp, £1.95, February 1982, ISBN 0 330 26737 X
  • Psychoanalytic Psychology of Normal Development by Anna Freud
    Hogarth, 389 pp, £15.00, February 1982, ISBN 0 7012 0543 1
  • Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill edited by Beverley Placzek
    Gollancz, 429 pp, £12.50, January 1982, ISBN 0 575 03054 2

The phenomenon of transference – how we all invent each other according to early blueprints – was Freud’s most original and radical discovery. The idea of infant sexuality and of the Oedipus complex can be accepted with a good deal more equanimity than the idea that the most precious and inviolate of entities – personal relations – is actually a messy jangle of misapprehensions, at best an uneasy truce between powerful solitary fantasy systems. Even (or especially) romantic love is fundamentally solitary, and has at its core a profound impersonality. The concept of transference at once destroys faith in personal relations and explains why they are tragic: we cannot know each other.

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