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* Psycho/analytic Corner* The transference according to Jung


Nowadays, most theoretical schools endorse the idea that intrapsychic and interpersonal realms cannot be divorced from one another in the analytic dyad.


Arlow described analyst and patient as a group of two, sharing an unconscious fantasy in common (Arlow, 1979, p. 202), This idea implies the analyst’s acceptance of his unconscious communion with the patient.


Today, writers from all sections of psychoanalysis converge on thinking of countertransference reactions as jointly created by patient and analyst.

Such an idea suggests that, at least partially, the analyst's experience reflects the patient's inner world.

In this sense, Jung was a pioneer when he wrote:


The doctor is bound to influence the patient; but this influence can only take place if the patient has a reciprocal influence on the doctor.
(1929, para. 163).

The realm of the unconscious is always ‘in a fluid state and capable of being transformed into consciousness, given a proper environmental fit’ (Gerson, 2004, p. 60): whilst located in an individual’s mind; it is also affected by the intersubjective context.


Projective identification phenomena generate unconscious processes between patient and analyst. In turn, such processes influence the receptive functions of the individual unconscious mind.

An implication of this idea is that some unconscious contents achieve coherence only when recognised by another unconscious mind. In other words, when two unconscious systems interact, both receptive and expressive properties determine the communicativ capacities.


This is consistent with Jung’s ideas of the transference-countertransference situation as a “two-way” relatedness.

To visualise it, we might imagine the analyst functioning like a ‘radio receiver’, tuned on the ‘unconscious transmitters’ in his patient and himself: this way, the analyst receives the patient's broadcast messages. Such messages travel through two simultaneous frequencies, which are the conscious and the unconscious one, as the diagram below shows (Jung, 1946, para. 221):





As Samuels observes (1985, p. 204), the double-headed arrows indicate two-way relatedness. (a) Indicates the conscious relationship between analyst and patient.

(b) Indicates the analyst's connexion to his own unconscious: this includes neurotic aspects in the analyst’s psyche.

(c) Indicates the patient's relation to his unconscious, his conflicts, etc.

(d) indicates the analyst's attempt to understand the patient's unconscious situation, and also the influence of the patient on the analyst's ego: projections happen on this layer, as well as the transference for the way it was conceived by Freud.

(e) Indicates the analyst's use of empathy and intuition and also how the analyst was affected by his contact with the patient.

In order to do so, the analyst must be able to experience simultaneously (d), (b), (a) and

(f), which indicates the connexion between the two unconscious systems of patient and analyst.

This is the level where unconscious processes take place, and that Jung referred to as Archetypal Transference (1946).


Although some authors separate personal and archetypal levels of transference, I do not agree with such an artificial division.

In my opinion, the personal is archetypal, for archetypes don't stand behind our personal experience: they are inextricably wedded to it.


Unconscious processes start in the realm of (f), but act as bridges between psyches through the analyst’s openness to conscious and unconscious engagements.Jung captured this idea in the concept of transcendent function, used to identify ‘the process by which conscious and unconscious attitudes are compared and integrated with each other’ (Knox, 2004, p. 10).

Such an attitude, in contrast to the Freudian paradigm, implies openness to, and valuing of, the participation mystique and the ‘psychic infection’ stemming out of it.

If the analyst does not achieve this attitude, a state of fusion will overwhelm the relationship: as an outcome, patient and analyst will ‘fall into the same dark hole of unconsciousness’ (Jung C. , 1935, p. 322).



To use a metaphor, the analytic relationship could be imagined as a three dimensional universe, where an unconscious core determines the gravitational field.

Within it, unconscious psyches experience a force of gravitational attraction, and orbit at a certain distance from each other.

Projective identification inflates the unconscious core, unsettling the distance between psyches: these changes might act as black holes, or as wormholes.

A black hole is a region of space-time exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—not even light—can escape from inside it. This is the case where psyches become fused in a mutually supported defensive process.

A wormhole, instead, can be imagined as a gravitational tunnel where near-instantaneous transit becomes possible: by securing a part of the analyst’s psyche against the gravity exerted by the unconscious, the transcendent function sets a creative process into motion and promotes conjunctions between dimensions otherwise impossible to reach.



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