Transference, hypnosis and the fate of psychoanalysis.


Miller, Michael 2001. Transference, hypnosis and the fate of psychoanalysis. Thesis University of East London
AuthorsMiller, Michael

This thesis is an enquiry into the psychoanalytic concept of transference. The
`transference' refers to a particular kind of relationship that a patient develops towards
his therapist and is found, to a greater or lesser degree, in all psychotherapeutic
encounters. Psychoanalysis claims that its understanding and handling of the
transference relationship provides an unrivalled access into the unconscious mind.
Using an historical approach, I examine the pre-history of psychoanalysis from
Mesmer to Freud. I then look at the subsequent development within psychoanalysis
up to the present, as represented by the school of psychoanalysis known as Object
Relations (OR). What I set out to demonstrate, through a critical examination of the
psychoanalytic literature, is that the concept of transference does not achieve the
epistemological breakthrough for psychoanalysis that is claimed. Firstly I show that
the observation connecting transference with the unconscious is by no means a new
idea. This connection had already been noted in relation to the concept of the
`rapport' developed by Mesmer and his followers some 150 years prior to the advent
of psychoanalysis. Secondly I show that the explanation that psychoanalysis gives in
terms of the `unconscious phantasies' said to underlie transference, is mistaken. I
show that both the formation of transference in terms of ideas about the therapist, and
the psychoanalytic interpretation of these ideas in terms of `unconscious phantasy', in
fact deny the real nature of the unconscious. This leads me to the development of my
central argument against psychoanalysis. Firstly I argue that the real nature of the
unconscious is structured around affectivity not ideas. Secondly, I argue that because
psychoanalysis misunderstands the real nature of the unconscious, its therapeutic
method offers no significant advantage over hypnosis, out of which it directly

KeywordsPsychoanalysis; transference
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Deposited11 May 2011
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