This article offers an understanding of the developmental evolution of psychoanalytic work with the erotic transference. Having for so long been seen as a resistance, rather than as the manifestation of the primal unconscious longings, the erotic transference needs to be understood both in object relations terms as a transitional object relationship, and in object relations terms as a psychic fantasy evolution. This evolution is generated by a multi-dimensional mourning process, which is both intrapsychically and developmentally motivated. This paper offers the theory and related clinical examples that integrate our conceptualization of erotic transference as a journey from protosymbolic enactment to symbolic passion and poetic self-expression. This paper also distinguishes the patient with protosymbolic visceral and behavioral enactments from the neurotic patient with oedipal love symbolization and oedipal level conflicts. Both heterosexual and homosexual aspects of erotic transference are addressed, with the homoerotic in the heterosexual person being given attention as well. Countertransference perceptions and sensation are also seen in the light of the patient’s developmental evolution.
About The Author
Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, DLitt
Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler is a graduate of the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, and has been practicing for over 35 years as a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City. She founded the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in New York City in 1991, and has been this institute’s executive director ever since. She is also a supervisor and former faculty member at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and is a member of the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society, where she had served as a faculty member at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health.
Besides individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy and object relations psychoanalysis, Dr. Kavaler-Adler offers groups on mourning, creative blocks, and supervision. She conducts classes on "Projection and Projective Identification," "The Analyst as an Instrument," and others, using role playing; and courses on work of Ronald Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, Wilfred Bion, and on her own theories of "developmental mourning" and "the demon- lover complex." Dr. Kavaler-Adler also conducts workshops in self-sabotage, developmental mourning and psychic change, fear of success, envy, creative blocks, and compulsions.
Dr. Kavaler-Adler is the author of 5 books and 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the field of psychoanalysis and object relations theory. Three of her earlier books were published with Routledge: The Compulsion to Create: A Psychoanalytic Study of Women Writers (1993), The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), and Mourning, Spirituality, and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (2003). The Other Press reprinted The Compulsion to Create as The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (2000). Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s two recent books are published with Karnac: The Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases (2013) and Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Transformative New Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (2014).
Dr. Kavaler-Adler has won 12 awards for her books and articles, including the Gradiva Award from NAAP for Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change (published by Routledge) in 2004. She has won four Arlene Wohlberg Memorial Awards from Postgraduate Center for Mental Health for peer-reviewed journal articles, including “Mourning and Erotic Transference” in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (1992, Vol. 3), and “My Graduation is My Mother’s Funeral” in The International Forum of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Kavaler-Adler received 7 Author's Recognition Awards from the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society and the National Institute for Psychotherapies.
transitional object, transference, countertransference, mourning, developmental mourning, erotic transference, homosexual, lesbian, heterosexual, protosymbolic, enactment, intrapsychic.