Introjektion und Übertragung [Introjection and transference] : 1909 : Sándor Ferenczi

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1909


Jb psychoanalt. psychopath. Forsch., I, 422 

Translated by Ernest Jones as Introjection and transference, Chapter II of First Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London, 1952

Available at  /authors by date or authors a-z

Cited by Sigmund Freud

SE XVIII p113, Ch VIII Being in Love & Hypnosis of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud, SEXVIII p69-143 : published by : available here : 

Cited by Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : 6th February 1957 :

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here for details of the translation

Para 25 : The choice of object, so deeply linked to narcissism in Freudian analysis – this object which is a kind of other ‘ego’ [moi] in the subject, to take things further than the sense in which Freud articulates it perfectly, this is what is at stake: how can we articulate this difference between identification and Verleibtheit [Obsession] in its most elevated forms, seemingly, its fullest forms, which we call fascination, devoted affiliation [appartenance amoureuse], in their most elevated manifestations known as subservience, or the devoted affiliation which is easy to describe. 

[Reads German text] 

From Ch VIII Being in Love & Hypnosis, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud, SE XVIII p69-143 : published by : available here 

GW XIII p106-107 : Der Unterschied der Identifizierung von der Verliebtheit in ihren hoch- sten Ausbildungen, die man Faszination, verliebte Horigkeit heibt, ist nun leicht zu beschreiben. Im ersteren Falle hat sich das Ich um die Eigenschaften des Objektes bereichert, sich dasselbe nach Ferenczis [1909] Ausdruck »introjiziert«; im zweiten Fall ist es verarmt, hat sich dem Objekt hingegeben, dasselbe an die Stelle seines wichtigsten Bestandteiles gesetzt. Indes merkt man bei naherer Erwagung bald, daB eine solche Darstellung Gegensatze vorspiegelt, die nicht bestehen. Es handelt sich okonomisch nicht um Verarmung oder Bereicherung, man kann auch die extreme Verliebtheit so beschreiben, daB das Ich sich das Objekt introjiziert habe. Vielleicht triffi: eine andere Unterscheidung eher das Wesentliche. Im Falle der Identifizierung ist das Objekt verlorengegangen oder aufgegeben warden; es wird dann im Ich wieder aufgerichtet, das Ich verandert sich partiell nach dem Vorbild des verlorenen Objektes. Im anderen Falle ist das Objekt erhalten geblieben und wird als solches von seiten und auf Kosten des Ichs ilberbesetzt. Aber auch hiegegen erhebt sich ein Bedenken. Steht es denn fest, dab die Identifizierung das Aufgeben der Objektbesetzung voraussetzt, kann es nicht Identifizierung bei erhaltenem Objekt geben? Und ehe wir uns in die Diskussion dieser heiklen Frage einlassen, kann uns bereits die Einsicht aufdammern, dab eine andere Alternative das Wesen dieses Sachverhaltes in sich fabt, namlich ob das Objekt an die Stelle des Ichs oder des Ichideals gesetzt wird. 

SE XVIII p113-114 : It is now easy to define the difference between identification and such extreme developments of being in love as may be described as ‘fascination’ or ‘bondage’. 1 In the former case the ego has enriched itself with the properties of the object, it has ‘introjected’ the object into itself, as Ferenczi [1909] expresses it. In the second case it is impoverished, it has surrendered itself to the object, it has substituted the object for its own most important constituent. Closer consideration soon makes it plain, however, that this kind of account creates an illusion of contradistinctions that have no real existence. Economically there is no question of impoverishment or enrichment; it is even possible to describe an extreme case of being in love as a state in which the ego has introjected the object into itself. Another distinction is perhaps better calculated to meet the essence of the matter. In the case of identification the object has been lost or given up; it is then set up again inside the ego, and the ego makes a partial alteration in itself after the model of the lost object. In the other case the object is retained, and there is a hypercathexis of it by the ego and at the ego’s expense. But here again a difficulty presents itself. Is it quite certain that identification presupposes that object-cathexis has been given up? Can there be no identification while the object is retained? And before we embark upon a discussion of this delicate question, the perception may already be beginning to dawn on us that yet another alternative embraces the real essence of the matter, namely, whether the object is put in the place of the ego or of the ego ideal. 

1 [The ‘bondage’ of love had been discussed by Freud in the early part of his paper on ‘The Taboo of Virginity’ (1918a).] 

Ferenczi, S. (1909) ‘Introjektion und Übertragung’, Jb psychoanalt. psychopath. Forsch., I, 422 [Trans.: Introjection and transference, First Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London, 1952, Chap. II]

Para 26 : In truth, it ought to read simply as Ferenczi translates it: “interjects itself” [« s’introjecte »] – this is the matter of introjection in its the relation to identification.

See quote from SE XVIII p113-114 above. & Ferenczi, S. (1909) ‘Introjektion und Übertragung’, Jb psychoanalt. psychopath. Forsch., I, 422 [Trans.: Introjection and transference, First Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London, 1952, Chap. II]

Reference [3] in The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan See here 

p26 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Hence the notion of inter-subjective introjection, the third error, which comes from having made the mistake of installing oneself in a dual relationship.

For we are certainly dealing with a unitive way and the various theoretical sauces with which it is served up – depending on the topography to which one is referring – can do no more than preserve the metaphor while varying it according to the level of the operation considered to be serious: introjection for Ferenczi, identification with the analyst‘s superego for Strachey, a terminal narcissistic trance for Balint.

p27-28 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : To make distance the sole dimension in which the neurotic‘s relations with the object are played out produces insurmountable contradictions that can be read well enough both within the system and in the opposite direction that different authors will derive from the same metaphor to organise their impressions. Too much or too little distance from the object sometimes appears to become confused to an inextricable degree. And it is not the distance from the object but rather its excessive closeness to the subject that seems to Ferenczi to characterise the neurotic.

What decides what each one means is its technical use and the technique of rapprocher, however priceless the effect of the untranslated term may have in an English presentation, reveals in practice a tendency that borders on obsession.

It is difficult to believe that in the prescribed ideal of the reduction of this distance to zero (nil in English) its author can fail to see that this is where its theoretical paradox is concentrated.

p32-33 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : IV How to act with your being 

1. The question of the analyst‘s being appears very early in the history of analysis and it should come as no surprise that it was introduced by the analyst most tormented by the problem of analytic action. Indeed it can be said that Ferenczi‘s article, Introjection and transference, dating from 1909 [3], was inaugural, and it anticipated from afar all the themes later developed about the topic. 

Although Ferenczi conceived of transference as the introjection of the person of the doctor into the subjective economy, it was no longer a matter here of this person as a support for a repetitive compulsion, for ill-adapted behaviour, or as a phantasy figure. What he means is the absorption into the economy of the subject of all that the psychoanalyst makes present in the duo as the hic et nunc of an incarnated problematic. Does not this author come in the end to articulate that the completion of the analysis can be attained only in the avowal made by the doctor to the patient of the abandonment that he himself is capable of suffering? 11 

11 Rectification of the text of the second last sentence and the first line of the following paragraph (1966). 

Quoted by Ferenczi

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  See  here

On the Sexual Theories of Children (Über infantile Sexualtheorien) 1908c : Sigmund Freud, SE IX p209-36, Published at, see here  

Freud. Zur Psychopathologic des Alltagslebens, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life : 1901 :  Sigmund Freud,  SE VI. pp. 8-12 : published by : available here

Freud. Der Witz und seine Beziehungen cum Unbewuesten. : Jokes and their relation to the Unconscious : 1905 : Sigmund Freud, Published SE VIII P3-237, published by : available here   

Freud. Drel Abhmdlungen sur Sexualtheorie, 8. la Anm. 9 : Sigmund Freud: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: 1905d : SE VII p123-245,  Published at see here  

Freud, “Zur Psychotheraple der Hysterle,” IV Absehnltt In Breuer und Freud, Studien über Hysterie, 1895 : Sigmund Freud: Studies on Hysteria: 1893-1895 : SE II, Published at & available here with notes on the case studies.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here 

Topology and the clinic  here  

Dreams  here 

Translation Working Group here 

Seminar VI   here 

Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis  here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Jacques Lacan here      

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

By Sándor Ferenczi here     

By Julia Evans here