Some aspects of transference : 4th April 1951 (London?) : Daniel Lagache

by Julia Evans on April 4, 1951

Paper read at the meeting of the British Psychoanalytical Society on 4th April 1951.

Published as Daniel Lagache, ‘Some Aspects of Transference’, IJPA, vXXlV, 1 (1953), pp.1-10

Available at  /lacan

Cited by Jacques Lacan

A Theoretical Introduction to the Functions of Psychoanalysis in Criminology (Paris?) : 29th May 1950 : Jacques Lacan or here

P109 Engish/p134 French Écrits : p17 of Mark Bracher, Russell Grigg, Robert Samuels’ translation :

… appeared astonished by the powerlessness of the theory to distinguish the structure of this character as criminogenic from that of neurosis, where the tensions remain latent in symptoms.

The observations we are pursuing here allow us to recognize that the “neurotic character” is the reflection, in individual behaviour, of the isolation of the familial group of which these cases always demonstrate the asocial position, while neurosis expresses instead the family’s structural anomalies. Also, what requires explication is less the passing into action of the unlawful act in a subject enclosed in what Daniel Lagache quite correctly characterized as imaginary behaviour, than the processes through which neurotics partially adapt themselves to the real: these are, we know, the auto-plastic mutilations that can be recognized at the origin of symptoms.

The sociological reference of the “neurotic character” agrees for the rest with the genesis that Kate Friedlander gives it, if it is correct to summarize this genesis as the repetition, throughout the biography of the subject, of drive frustrations that would be as though arrested in a short circuit on the Oedipal situation, without ever again being engaged in an elaboration of structure.

Psychoanalysis, in its understanding of crimes caused by the superego, thus has the effect of de-essentializing them – in which it agrees with a dim recognition that has for a long time imposed itself on the best of those charged with assuring the application of the law.

– Intervention on the Transference (Paris): Seminar on ‘Dora’ – 1950-1951: October 16th 1951: Jacques Lacan or here   Published in 1952 : Presented to the Congress of Romance-language psychoanalysts in 1951. : 

p62 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation : The objective of the present article is once again to accustom people’s ears to the term subject. The person providing with this opportunity will remain anonymous, which will avoid my having to refer to all the passages clearly distinguishing him in what follows.

Had one wished to consider as closed the question of Freud’s part in the case of Dora, then there might be an overall advantage to be gained from this attempt to re-open the study of transference, on the appearance of the report presented under that title by Daniel Lagache. His originality was to account for it by means of the Zeigarnik effect []}, an idea which was bound to please at a time when psychoanalysis seemed to be short of alibis. 

When the colleague, who shall be nameless, took the credit of replying to the author of the report that one could equally well claim the presence of transference within this effect, I took this as an opportune moment to talk of psychoanalysis.

I have had to go back on this, since I was moreover way in advance here of what I have stated since on the subject of transference.

[2] Briefly, this consists of the psychological effect produced by an unfinished task when it leaves a Gestalt in suspense: for instance, that of the general felt need to give to a musical bar its rhyming chord.

P64 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation : For precisely on account of the strength of the forces opened up by analysis, nothing less than a new type of alienation of man is coming into being, as much through the efforts of collective belief as through the selective process of techniques with all the formative weight belonging to rituals: in short a homo psychologicus, which is a danger I would warn you against.

It is in relation to him that I ask you whether we will allow ourselves to be fascinated by his fabrication or whether, by rethinking the work of Freud, we cannot retrieve the authentic meaning of his initiative and the way to maintain its beneficial value.

Let me stress here, should there be any need, that these questions are in no sense directed at the work of someone like our friend Lagache: the prudence of his method, his scrupulous procedure and the openness of his conclusions, are all exemplary of the distance between our praxis and psychology. I will base my demonstration on the case of Dora, because of what it stands for in the experience of transference when this experience was still new, this being the first case in which Freud recognised that the analyst played his part.

From the forward to Jacqueline Rose’s translation, p61 of  ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’ : 1982 : Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose : See  here 

 : … the split in the Society in 1953.Lacan, together with a number of analysts, resigned in that year, and founded the Societe francaise de psychanalyse under the presidency of Daniel Lagache.

Lacan engages here, therefore, with the institution of psychoanalysis – critically, and at a number of different levels. Firstly, in his development of the concept of the ‘ego’, of both analyst, and patient, which he identifies as the point of resistance to the analytic treatment, against those theories which see the integration of the ‘ego’ as the objective of the psychoanalytic process. And secondly, in his re-opening of a case, in which the demands of the analyst (here, Freud himself) can be seen to block the treatment at the crucial point of its encounter with the problem of sexual identity.

Variations on the Standard Treatment : published 1955 : Jacques Lacan 

P328 (French) or p273 (Bruce Fink’s translation) : See  Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here  : This is true of transference, which manages to weather the storm of popularizing theory and even popular ideas. It owes this to the Hegelian robust­ ness of its constitution: Indeed, what other concept is there that better brings out its identity with the thing, the analytic thing in this case, cleaving to it with all the ambiguities that constitute its logical time?

This temporal foundation is the one with which Freud inaugurates transference and that I modulate by asking: Is it a return or a memorial? Others dwell on the thing regarding this resolved point by asking: Is it real or dereistic? Lagache [8] raises a question about the concept of transference: Need for repetition or repetition of need? [9]

We see here that the dilemmas in which the practitioner gets bogged down derive from depreciations by which his thinking fails his action.

Footnote 8 : “Le probleme du transfert” (“The Problem of Transference”), RFP XVI, 1-2(1952): 5—115. [A sample of Lagache’s work on transference can be found in English in “Some Aspects of Transference,” IJP XXXIV , 1 (1953): 1-10.]

Footnote 9 : [Added in 1966:] In 1966, Lagache is someone who keeps up with my teaching without seeing in it that transference is the inmixing of the time of knowing.

Whilst rewritten, this text scrupulously follows the statements I made in 1955.

Seminar IV : 23rd January 1957 : ‘which I gave, following Lagache’s report on transference,’  : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

: See above references to Intervention on the Transference.

See – The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan       or here  : p20 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : III Where do we stand as regards transference? 

1. It is to the work of our colleague Daniel Lagache that we must turn to construct an accurate history of the publications which, around Freud while he was pursuing his work and since he has bequeathed it to us, have been devoted to the transference that he discovered. The object of this labour goes much further, by introducing into the function of the phenomenon structural distinctions that are essential for its critique. One has only to recall the very relevant alternative that he presents, as regards its ultimate nature, between the need for repetition and the repetition of need. 

Such a work – and I believe I have been able to convey in my teaching the consequences that it involves – shows very clearly by the order that it introduces to what extent the aspects on which discussion is centred are often partial, and particularly the extent to which the ordinary use of the term, even in analysis, cannot free itself from its most questionable, though most popular, approach, namely, to see it as the succession or totality of the positive or negative feelings that the patient has for his analyst. 

In measuring where we stand with regard to transference in our scientific community it could be said that neither agreement nor illumination has been reached on the following points on which they would nevertheless seem to be necessary: is it the same effect of the relation to the analyst that is manifested in the primary infatuation to be observed at the beginning of treatment and in the web of satisfaction that makes this relation so difficult to break when the transference neurosis seems to have gone beyond properly analytic means? Is it, again, the relation with the analyst and its fundamental frustration which, in the second period of analysis, sustains the rhythm of frustration, aggression, and regression in which the most fruitful effects of analysis appear to occur? How must we conceive of the subordination of phenomena when their domain is traversed by phantasies that openly involve the figure of the analyst. 

Footnote : Lagache, Daniel, “Le problème du transfert” (Report to the 14th Conference des Psychanalystes de Langue française. November 1, 1951), RFP., XVl, 1-2 (1952): 5-115.

– Seminar VIII : 1st March 1961 : p149 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The presence of the past therefore, such is the reality of transference. Is there not already something which imposes itself, which allows us to formulate it in a more complete fashion? It is a presence, a little more than a presence, it is a presence in act and, as the German and French terms indicate, a reproduction. I mean that what is not sufficiently articulated, not sufficiently highlighted in what is ordinarily said, is the way in which this reproduction is distinguished from a simple passivity of the subject. 

If it is a reproduction, if it is something in act, there is in the manifestation of transference something creative. It appears to me to be absolutely essential to articulate this element and, as always, if I highlight it, this is not to say that its indications are not already noticeable in a more or less obscure fashion in what the authors have already articulated. 

Because if you refer to an epoch-making report by Daniel Lagache, you will see that this is what constitutes the core, the point of this distinction that he introduced – which to my mind remains a little vacillating and unclear because it does not see the final point…. – of the distinction that he introduced of the opposition around which he wanted to make there turn his distinction of transference between repetition of need and need of repetition. Because however didactic may be this opposition which in reality is not included, is not even for a single (7) instant really in question in what we experience of transference – there is no doubt that it is question of the need for repetition – we are not able to formulate otherwise the phenomena of transference than in this enigmatic form: why is it necessary for the subject to repeat perpetually this signification, in the positive sense of the term, which he signifies to us by his behaviour. To call that need, is already to inflect in a certain direction what is in question and in this respect one understands in effect that the reference to an opaque psychological datum like the one connoted purely and simply by Daniel Lagache in his report, the Zeigarnik effect, after all better respects what is to be preserved in what constitutes the strict originality of what is in question in transference. 

For it is clear that everything on the other hand indicates to us that if what we do in so far as transference is the repetition of a need (of a need which may manifest itself at one or other moment to manifest the transference) is something which could manifest itself there as need, we arrive at an impasse – because in other respects we spend our time saying that it is a shadow of a need, a need which has for a long time been superseded, and that it is for that reason that its repetition is possible. 

References to Sigmund Freud

– p2 ‘The psychoanalytical approach to behaviour find an ideal field in the study of transference ; has not Freud himself postulated that in transference the patient substitutes repetition by behaviour for remembering by though and language?’ : Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis : 1917b : Sigmund Freud, translated by James Strachey, (1963), SE XVI (1916-1917): (Part III) Lecture XXVII Transference : p496 of pfl v1 [p3158] : We must not forget that the patient’s illness, which we have undertaken to analyse, is not something which has been rounded off and become rigid but that it is still growing and developing like a living organism. The beginning of the treatment does not put an end to this development; when, however, the treatment has obtained mastery over the patient, what happens is that the whole of his illness’s new production is concentrated upon a single point – his relation to the doctor. Thus the transference may be compared to the cambium layer in a tree between the wood and the bark, from which the new formation of tissue and the increase in the girth of the trunk derive. When the transference has risen to this significance, work upon the patient’s memories retreats far into the background. Thereafter it is not incorrect to say that we are no longer concerned with the patient’s earlier illness but with a newly created and transformed neurosis which has taken the former’s place. We have followed this new edition of the old disorder from its start, we have observed its origin and growth, and we are especially well able to find our way about in it since, as its object, we are situated at its very centre. All the patient’s symptoms have abandoned their original meaning and have taken on a new sense which lies in a relation to the transference; or only such symptoms have persisted as are capable of undergoing such a transformation. But the mastering of this new, artificial neurosis coincides with getting rid of the illness which was originally brought to the treatment – with the accomplishment of our therapeutic task. A person who has become normal and free from the operation of repressed instinctual impulse in his relation to the doctor will remain so in his own life after the doctor has once more withdrawn from it.

-p8 If we return to the technical writings of Freud, we find that we need not stretch their meaning in order to discover elements to support the point of view here proposed. In many passages even the details in style attest the positive action which Freud ascribed to the psychoanalytical situation ; his study of transference love is one of the most conclusive (Freud 1915). : Observations on Transference-Love (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psychoanalysis III) : 1914 : Sigmund Freud, SEXII p157-170, published by : available here    

-p8 ‘But what is the nature of this action? The answer can be found in the texts concerning the rule of abstinence (Freud, 1915, p383 and Freud 1919 p396-397) where it is explicitly related to the ‘frustration that made the patient ill (p396); without doubt frustration by the analyst plays a similar role in the production of transference neurosis : ‘When the symptoms have been dissected and the value of them thus discounted, his sufferings become moderated, and then we must set up a sufficiently distressing privation again in some other sensitive spot, or else we run the risk of never achieving any further improvement except quite insignificant and transitory ones’ (pp396-397)  

i) Freud 1914, see above, p164-165 (probably) : ‘I have already let it be understood that analytic technique requires of the physician that he should deny to the patient who is craving for love the satisfaction she demands. The treatment must be carried out in abstinence. By this I do not mean physical abstinence alone, nor yet the deprivation of everything that the patient desires, for perhaps no sick person could tolerate this. Instead, I shall state it as a fundamental principle that the patient’s need and longing should be allowed to persist in her, in order that they may serve as forces impelling her to do work and to make changes, and that we must beware of appeasing those forces by means of surrogates. And what we could offer would never be anything else than a surrogate, for the patient’s condition is such that, until her repressions are removed, she is incapable of getting real satisfaction.

Let us admit that this fundamental principle of the treatment being carried out in abstinence extends far beyond the single case we are considering here, and that it needs to be thoroughly discussed in order that we may define the limits of its possible application.  

ii) Freud 1919 p396 : Lines of advance in Psychoanalytic Therapy : 1919a : Sigmund Freud, SE XVII p162-163 

[p3299-3301] Let us at once agree upon what we mean by this activity. We have defined our therapeutic task as consisting of two things: making conscious the repressed material and uncovering the resistances. In that we are active enough, to be sure. But are we to leave it to the patient to deal alone with the resistances we have pointed out to him? Can we give him no other help in this besides the stimulus he gets from the transference? Does it not seem natural that we should help him in another way as well, by putting him into the mental situation most favourable to the solution of the conflict which is our aim? After all, what he can achieve depends, too, on a combination of external circumstances. Should we hesitate to alter this combination by intervening in a suitable manner? I think activity of such a kind on the part of the analysing physician is unobjectionable and entirely justified.

 You will observe that this opens up a new field of analytic technique the working over of which will require close application and which will lead to quite definite rules of procedure. I shall not attempt to-day to introduce you to this new technique, which is still in the course of being evolved, but will content myself with enunciating a fundamental principle which will probably dominate our work in this field. It runs as follows: Analytic treatment should be carried through, as far as is possible, under privation – in a state of abstinence.

 How far it is possible to show that I am right in this must be left to a more detailed discussion. By abstinence, however, is not to be understood doing without any and every satisfaction – that would of course not be practicable; nor do we mean what it popularly connotes, refraining from sexual intercourse; it means something else which has far more to do with the dynamics of falling ill and recovering.

 You will remember that it was a frustration that made the patient ill, and that his symptoms serve him as substitutive satisfactions. It is possible to observe during the treatment that every improvement in his condition reduces the rate at which he recovers and diminishes the instinctual force impelling him towards recovery. But this instinctual force is indispensible; reduction of it endangers our aim – the patient’s restoration to health. What, then, is the conclusion that forces itself inevitably upon us? Cruel though it may sound, we must see to it that the patient’s suffering, to a degree that is in some way or other effective, does not come to an end prematurely. If, owing to the symptoms having been taken apart and having lost their value, his suffering becomes mitigated, we must reinstate it elsewhere in the form of some appreciable privation; otherwise we run the danger of never achieving any improvements except quite insignificant and transitory ones.

 As far as I can see, the danger threatens from two directions in especial. On the one hand, when the illness has been broken down by the analysis, the patient makes the most assiduous efforts to create for himself in place of his symptoms new substitutive satisfactions, which now lack the feature of suffering. He makes use of the enormous capacity for displacement possessed by the now partly liberated libido, in order to cathect with libido and promote to the position of substitutive satisfactions the most diverse kinds of activities, preferences and habits, not excluding some that have been his already. He continually finds new distractions of this kind, into which the energy necessary to carrying on the treatment escapes, and he knows how to keep them secret for a time. It is the analyst’s task to detect these divergent paths and to require him every time to abandon them, however harmless the activity which leads to satisfaction may be in itself. The half-recovered patient may also enter on less harmless paths – as when, for instance, if he is a man, he seeks prematurely to attach himself to a woman. It may be observed, incidentally, that unhappy marriage and physical infirmity are the two things that most often supersede a neurosis. They satisfy in particular the sense of guilt (need for punishment) which makes many patients cling so fast to their neuroses. By a foolish choice in marriage they punish themselves; they regard a long organic illness as a punishment by fate and thereafter often cease to keep up their neurosis.

 In all such situations activity on the part of the physician must take the form of energetic opposition to premature substitutive satisfactions. It is easier for him, however, to prevent the second danger which jeopardizes the propelling force of the analysis, though it is not one to be under-estimated. The patient looks for his substitutive satisfactions above all in the treatment itself, in his transference-relationship with the physician; and he may even strive to compensate himself by this means for all the other privations laid upon him. Some concessions must of course be made to him, greater or less, according to the nature of the case and the patient’s individuality. But it is not good to let them become too great. Any analyst who out of the fullness of his heart, perhaps, and his readiness to help, extends to the patient all that one human being may hope to receive from another, commits the same economic error as that of which our non-analytic institutions for nervous patients are guilty. Their one aim is to make everything as pleasant as possible for the patient, so that he may feel well there and be glad to take refuge there again from the trials of life. In so doing they make no attempt to give him more strength for facing life and more capacity for carrying out his actual tasks in it. In analytic treatment all such spoiling must be avoided. As far as his relations with the physician are concerned, the patient must be left with unfulfilled wishes in abundance. It is expedient to deny him precisely those satisfactions which he desires most intensely and expresses most importunately.

– p9 ‘Until 1920 onwards (Beyond the Pleasure Principle) transference was explained in terms of the compulsion of repetition, that is to say, independently of the pleasure principle. Unfortunately the later works of Freud do not shed much light on the relationship of the compulsion of repetition to the previously formulated concepts. The question becomes a little clearer when we note that in the earlier works Freud is primarily concerned with positive transference which helps to overcome the resistance, while in Beyond the Pleasure Principle he deals above all with negative transference. 

(4) The Need to Repeat and the Repetition of Needs. Even if we admit the existence of a specific need to repeat, the question still remains in what particular way this need expresses itself in transference. The criticism intrinsic to Freud’s position in Beyond the Pleasure Principles establishes two points : (1) The repetition of repressed needs does not exclude the search after pleasure.  (2) Resistance in conformity with the Pleasure Principle, is also a repetition; thus repetition and motivation are not mutually exclusive.’ :

See Beyond the Pleasure Principle: 1920g,  SE XVIII  p1-64 : Available at, download here   

Related texts

Intervention on the Transference (Paris): Seminar on ‘Dora’ – 1950-1951: October 16th 1951: Jacques Lacan or here  

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here  

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here  

Commentaries & Information from ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’ : 1982 : Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose or here 

Introduction – I to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982 : Juliet Mitchell or here    

Introduction – II to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982: Jacqueline Rose or here     

 Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


 Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Other texts

Of the clinic here 

Case studies here  

Lacanian Transmission here 

Some Lacanian History here 

Topology here 

From LW working groups here

By Daniel Lagache  here     

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here 

By Jacques Lacan here      

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan  here 

By Juliet Mitchell here 

By Jacqueline Rose here 

By Julia Evans here