This book provides extraordinary insight into the subtleties and diversities of contemporary clinical practice by exploring the problematic and ambiguous concept of the transference neurosis. Gail S. Reed makes use of a crucial but mostly ignored aspect of psychoanalytic discourse, its oral tradition. She reproduces extensive portions of interviews with twenty-two psychoanalysts to investigate the way they understand and use transference neurosis and transference, comments on their views, and draws on her own clinical work. The interviews detail not only the internal struggles analysts undergo in order to help their patients but also the effect of analysts' personal struggles on their immensely varied understanding.
Reed discusses the development of the transference neurosis from Freud's initial formulation of an artificial illness in the patient to the testimony of many contemporary analysts that the transference neurosis includes a profound experience in them that is the critical feature of every therapeutic relationship. Reed fashions a new definition of the transference neurosis that attempts to conserve what makes sense of its traditional meaning while integrating current practice. This book is unique in combining historical and theoretical analysis of a clinical concept while conveying to the reader with astonishing immediacy what it feels like to do analysis.