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    On psychoanalytic figures as transference objects

    Spurling, Laurence (2003) On psychoanalytic figures as transference objects. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 84 (1), pp. 31-43. ISSN 0020-7578.

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    One of the tasks that analysts and therapists face at a certain stage in their career is how to develop a way of psychoanalytic thinking and practising of their own. To do this involves modifying or overcoming the transferences established during their training or early career. These transferences are to one's teachers or training analyst, investing them with authority and infallibility, and to received theory, which is treated as though it were dogma. The need to free oneself from such transferences has been discussed in the literature. There is, however, another kind of transference that the developing therapist also needs to resolve, which has received little attention. This is the transference made on to a key figure in the psychoanalytic tradition. Such a psychoanalytic figure will be seen as the originator of or embodiment of those theoretical ideas to which one becomes attached, and/or as standing behind one's training analyst or seminal teachers who become a representative of that figure. The value of an investigation of one's relationship to a psychoanalytic figure is that it is an excellent medium for revealing one's transference, as the figure in question is not a real person but only exists through his/her writings. The body of the paper consists of an extended example of such an analysis, that of my own transference on to the figure of Winnicott. In this example I illustrate how my evaluation of Winnicott's ideas changed from seeing them as providing answers to all my clinical questions to no longer satisfying me in some areas of my work. This change in my relationship to Winnicott's theory went hand in hand with a modification in my transference on to the figure of Winnicott, from seeing him as endowed with authority and goodness to an appreciation of him as a still sustaining figure but now with limits and flaws. In the final part of the paper several questions arising out of my analysis are posed. Can the pull of writing such an account in terms of dramatic rupture rather than gradual and partial change be avoided? Should my account be regarded purely as a form of self-analysis or does it have anything to say about Winnicott himself and his theory? And do some psychoanalytic figures attract more intense or sticky transferences than others?


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Psychosocial Studies
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2017 10:44
    Last Modified: 19 Sep 2017 10:44


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