Transference, hypnosis and the fate of psychoanalysis
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 developed.