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'Transference is love': Love and the logical impossibility of collective life in Lacan and Simmel

Smith, Daniel R. ORCID: 2024. 'Transference is love': Love and the logical impossibility of collective life in Lacan and Simmel. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 29 , pp. 36-50. 10.1057/s41282-023-00421-5

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This article argues that Freud’s concept of ‘transference-love’ – the phenomenon where patients fall in love with their psychoanalysts – could become the basis for a theory of collective life. Freud’s radical claim that transference-love, despite its immoral appearance, is real love is situated in relation to the problems facing the sociology of romantic love: modern couples are problematised for being unable to provide a normative foundation for not only sexual desire, but social solidarity outright. This article restates the problem: transference is not a lesson in how love resists norms, but how love is resistant to logic. Transference-love arises out of a social condition Georg Simmel called life’s fragmentary character, marked by asymmetries appearing symmetrical: instead of transference being a case where we fall in love with the wrong person, transference is a case where our mistaken apprehensions of others is the precondition for our bonds to them. Viewed through the phenomenon of transference, love illuminates this asymmetrical form of life. It is argued that transference could be understood, sociologically, as demonstrating a logical impossibility to collective life: that a shared life together is possible, but nevertheless relies upon something that evades each of us.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN: 1088-0763
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 February 2024
Date of Acceptance: 19 December 2023
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 14:57

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