A Summary and review of Freud, S. (1915) Observations on Transference-Love (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis III).
Freud’s third paper on the technique of psychoanalysis deals with the issue of love in the analytic situation. The paper deals with the transference of love, its hindrance to recovery, how it needs to be dealt with, and eventually transformed and used towards the healing process. The occurrence of falling in love is explored from a practical and theoretical position.
When the client falls in deep love with the analyst, the analyst is faced with a specific set of challenges. Should he a) end treatment abruptly? b) Renounce all love with suppression? c) Or should the love be returned to the patient?
Freud challenges all three options, the option of termination, Freud dismisses by asking, and won’t love resurface with the new analyst as well? If so, what would termination accomplish? The second option, to lecture the patient for having these feelings thus forcing her to suppress them, Freud suggests, would be futile, in addition, it opposes the core tenet of psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis facilitates the repressed desires to enter consciousness and interpret it, only then can they become renounced, forcing the unconscious memories to return to repression would defeat the entire purpose of psychoanalysis. The third option, to allow the analyst to surrender to the patient’s desire and give her the love she yearns for, Freud rejects from an analytical perspective. The purpose of analysis is to help the client deal with their unresolved drives and conflicts within the psychical parameters of the situation by having them become conscious and gaining insight via the analyst’s interpretation. However allowing the patient’s love to be played out and returned in reality would only encourage the patient to act out. In other words, submitting to the patients urges and allowing her to act out, encourages her to continue repeating and reiterating past conflicts and re-entangle the neurosis and avoids working through the pathology.
If we neither a) terminate treatment nor b) suppress the eroticism nor c) allow them to be repeated and acted upon, how do we tackle this propelling love?
Freud suggests we need to first investigate the origin of this love, where is this love coming from, and we need to clarify what’s propelling the love into the current sphere? What’s forcing the love to surface and interfere with the treatment?
In order to deal with this love objectively, Freud declares, we need to realize that the love does not belong to the analyst, rather the love is a product of the situation, the ‘analytic situation’, the analytic space, which in its definition spurs the love transference into play. To answer what forcing the love into the treatment, Freud suggests, it’s the resistance towards recovery, the resistance forces the love-transference into the mix in order to prevent treatment from progressing, thus neurosis is pushed to the side and love takes center stage in order to hinder treatment. In regard to the origin of this love Freud clarifies, the analyst needs to be clear that this love is not real; it’s an erotic transference from early childhood. It is an early unconscious eroticism toward the parent that is being placed onto the analyst, because of the analytic situation, at a time when analysis is progressing. The analyst’s mission is to interpret to the patient that this love is not real; rather it’s a past love that is being played out
in the moment in order to impede on the healing process. Thus the patient is able to process the love and work it through and return to the focus of treatment which is to renounce the neurosis without allowing the love to paralyze the treatment. Processing the love analytically, helps the patient understand the dynamics of their childhood psychical formulation and their defenses, thus change is brought about through the consciousness of the interpretation of the love-transference and the resistance.
These three vital components categorize the nature of the love-transference, a) the resistance that’s entrenches the dynamic of the analytic treatment, b) the early childhood unconscious memory this love is repeating, and c) the infatuated love of the pleasure principal which demands obliviousness to the reality principal.
Freud confirms the love-transference is ingenious and is something that needs to be worked around and through, the distortion and resistance of this love entails a key to its resolution, therefore interpretation and insight is at the center of the treatment process and through interpretation of the transference and resistance treatment is restored.
Freud, S. (1913) On Beginning The Treatment (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis I) SE 12:121-144
—- (1914) Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis II) SE 12:145 -156
—- (1915) Observations on Transference-Love (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis III) SE 12: 157-171