11 - Text, transference, and indexicality  pp. 293-314

Text, transference, and indexicality

By Vincent Crapanzano

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In the Postscript to the Case of Dora, Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria, written shortly after The interpretation of dreams but published five years later in 1905, Freud (1959b, 1942a) considers the role of Dora's transference, and his failure to detect it or at least perceive its consequences in the course of her treatment and its abrupt termination. He notes that “Psychoanalytic treatment does not create transferences, it merely brings them to light, like so many other hidden psychical factors (1959b: 140) [Die psychoanalytische Kur schafft die Übertragung nicht, sie deckt sie blo², wie anderes im Seelenleben Verborgene, auf (1942a: 281)].” He stresses the extreme difficulty of detecting the transference.

Transference is the one thing the presence of which has to be detected almost without assistance and with only the slightest clues to go upon, while at the same time the risk of making arbitrary inferences has to be avoided.

(1959b: 139–40)

[Die Übertragung allein mu² man fast selbständig erraten, auf geringfügige Anhaltspunkte hin und ohne sich der Willkür schuldig zu machen.

(1942a: 280)]

Freud calls attention here to one of psychoanalysis' most ticklish problems at both the clinical and the theoretical level: how does one — a participant in the psychoanalytic encounter — come to understand the complex symbolic nature of that encounter?