The Development of the Transference : 1950 : Ida MacAlpine

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1950


Psychoanalytic Quarterly, vXIX (4), 1950, p500-539

Available at  /authors by date or authors a-z

Cited by Jacques Lacan

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

p38 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, In short I have succeeded in doing what in the field of ordinary commerce one would like to be able to do with such ease: with the offer I have created demand.

8. But it is, as one might say a radical demand.

Mrs MacAlpine is no doubt right to seek the motive force of transference in the analytic rule alone. But she errs in attributing to the absence of any object a door open to infantile regression [20]. This would rather seem to be an obstacle, for, as everyone knows, child analysts more than anyone, it takes a lot of little objects to keep up a relation with a child.

Through the mediation of the demand the whole past opens up right back to early infancy. The subject has never done anything other than demand, it was the only way he could live, and we just follow on.

p72 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : [20] Macalpine, Ida, “The Development of the Transference,” P Q XIX, no. 4 Oct.1950: 500-39, especially p 502-8 and p. 522-28

p501 of MacAlpine : Fenichel, for instance, writes (3): ‘Freud was at first surprised when he met with the phenomenon of transference; today, Freud’s discoveries make it easy to understand it theoretically. The analytic situation induces the development of derivatives of the repressed, and at the same time a resistance is operative against it… the patient misunderstands the present in terms of the past.’ If one scrutinizes this frequently quoted reference, one realizes that it gives no theoretical explanation of the factors which produce transference. However illuminating and pointed this and other similes may be, they are descriptive rather than explanatory.

The causes of the limited understanding of transference are historical, inherent in the subject matter, and psychological.



As psychoanalysis developed, there was a natural striving to differentiate it from hypnosis, its precursor, similarities between the two tending to be overlooked. The mode of production and the emergence of the transference (positive, negative, and the transference neurosis) were considered an entirely new phenomenon peculiar to psychoanalysis, and altogether distinct from what occurred in hypnosis  ….

(3) Otto Fenichel : The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis : 1949 : p29 

p507 of MacAlpine : To summarize this historical review, it may be stated that, despite ambiguities, it may be generally accepted that in the classical technique of psychoanalysis, suggestion so defined is used only to realize that he can be helped and that he can remember.

p522 of MacAlpine : DISCUSSION

If transference is an example of a universal mental mechanism (displacement), or if, in Abraham’s sense, it is equated with a capacity for adaption of which everybody is capable and which everybody employs at times in varying degrees, why does it invariably occur with such great intensity in every analysis? The answer to this question appears to be that transference is induced from without in a manner comparable to the production of hypnosis. The analysand brings, in varying degrees, an inherent capacity, a readiness to form transferences, and this readiness is met by something which converts it into an actuality.  

p528 of MacAlpine : A word might be added about the driving force of analysis in the light of this thesis. The libido necessary for continual regression and memory work is looked upon by Freud (19) as being derived from the relinquished symptoms. He says that the therapeutic task has two phases : ‘In the first, libido is forced away from the symptoms into the transference and there concentrated; and in the second phase the battle rages round this new object’. As so often in Freud’s statements, this description applies to clinical neuroses;  but psychoanalysis takes the same course in nonneurotics. The main driving force may be considered to be derived in every analysis from such libido as is continually freed by the denial of object world and by the frustration of libidinal impulses.


If the conception be accepted that analytic transference is actively induced in a ‘transference-ready’ analysand by exposing him to an infantile setting to which he has gradually to adapt by regression, certain conclusions follow.   …..

(19) Lecture XXVIII Analytic Therapy,  Sigmund Freud : Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis: 1915-1917 : SE XV & XVI : (Published 1916-1917)


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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 : towards NLS in Ghent  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 Ida MacAlpine  here   

By Julia Evans here