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The place of transference in psychosocial research.

Parker, Ian (2010) The place of transference in psychosocial research. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 30 (1). pp. 17-31. ISSN 1068-8471

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Psychoanalysis provides a complex discursive matrix for making sense of, or unraveling the existing sense of, textual material in social research. However, the relationship between psychoanalytic work in the clinic and psychoanalytic social research poses a series of questions for those working in each domain. The relationship opened up new fields of enquiry, of empirical and theoretical research, but it also now gives rise to empirical and theoretical problems. This paper is concerned with the elaboration of clinical concepts in the emerging field of psychosocial research, with a particular focus on the use of transference. The paper distinguishes 3 versions of transference in the psychoanalytic tradition, drawing attention to the importance of an “intersubjective” conception of transference in psychosocial research as an alternative to “attachment” models that appeal to mainstream empiricist approaches to psychological inquiry. The third version of transference elaborated in Lacanian psychoanalysis, one concerned with signification, is used to ground an analysis of the clinic as specific space in which the phenomenon manifests itself. Analysis of the clinic as “transferential space” enables us to conceptualize the place of psychoanalysis in the clinic and to question the extrapolation of transference to social research. The paper concludes with a consideration of generalized transference outside the clinic.

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