Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Christopher Bollas - The Generative Erotic Transfer

"In the generative erotic transference, the analysand is acutely aware of the analyst's body self. Indeed, part of the analysand's agony is the precise erotic interest in that body. Although this relation can and frequently does become a resistance to analysis, in that the patient refuses to freely associate, it may lead to an important presentation of the analysand's instinctual life achieved through transference embodiment, in which the patient erotically cathects the analyst's presence. What is meant by transference embodiment? To love the object is to release one's instinctual capability, which, in turn, gives the body self a new-found authority that I term embodiment.3 The transference relationship quite naturally evokes latent instinctual capacities in the analysand, and, if all goes well, he or she comes into a new-found body-experiencing in the analyst's presence. Although the analysand will suffer a transitional disappointment because the analyst will not agree to the analysand's erotic wishes, the analysand feels instinctually emboldened and proud of his or her ability to represent sexual life in the sessions. It is a relief to find a body that is not merely an internal object, but also a body to love.

In some respects, the localised pathology of the erotic transfer becomes a motive for speech, as the patient partly wishes to engage the analyst through the conviction supplied by erotic passion. And yet it is difficult to cross the boundary between inner relations and external realities. In moments when speaking the internal erotic to the actual object of desire, the patient simultaneously recognises the integrity of the boundary between the internal and the actual. This may allow for a maximum nonerotic representation of the body's relation to the other, because the analysand either explicitly or implicitly indicates that she knows that her erotic is to an internal object that needs its reporting to come to full elaboration. In so doing she will know, however, that any person's narration of the actual other is precarious, and there may be innumerable reasons why the patient does not feel secure representing the analyst's body."
(pp. 574-575)

3 "Embodiment" refers to the individual's pleasure in having or being a body. Transference embodiment is the development of pleasure in one's own body, driven initially by the erotic transference, but ending in a sense of the intrinsic pleasures of bodily existing, as opposed to the world of abstract thought and schizoid inner object relating.

Christopher Bollas (1994). Aspects of the Erotic Transference. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Vol. 14, pp. 572-590

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