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Transference And Counter Transference In F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night

2566 words - 11 pages

Already with thee! tender is the night,

* * * * * * * * *

But here there is no light,

Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown

Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

-John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"

A silent but unsettling darkness pervades the novel, Tender is the Night, the story of Dick Diver, a promising young psychologist who falls from fame as he lives with his wife Nicole Warren, a wealthy and beautiful schizophrenic patient.

The Author

The analysis of the novel would be incomplete if not seen side by side with the biography of the author, as Tender is the Night, just like most ...view middle of the document...

It was not until 1934 that Tender is the Night appeared.

Fitzgerald recovered sufficiently to become a screenwriter in Hollywood, where he met Sheilah Graham, who tried to save him from his alcoholism. He died of a heart attack in December 21, 1940 without completing The Last Tycoon (1941), his most mature novel. Even so, the book's brilliance prompted critics to re-evaluate Fitzgerald's talent and eventually to recognize him as one of the finest American writers.

Transference and Counter-transference

The novel is analyzed through the concepts of transference and counter-transference, two important principles in psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy is the process of interaction between a therapist and the patient. This therapy is aimed at dispelling distress arising through disorders of emotion, thinking, and behavior. (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2003)

Transference is a phenomenon that occurs when patients displace onto the therapist feelings of love or hatred which they had previously attached to a significant other, often a parent. (Hjelle and Ziegler, 1992)

Counter transference refers to the emotional response of the analyst to the patient. It may be seen as an impediment to the therapeutic process, as the therapist's unresolved conflicts are introduced into the relationship with the patient, reducing the therapist's objectivity. This type of counter-transference is known as an "abnormal" or "proactive" counter-transference.

Alternatively, emotions elicited in a therapist who has retained objectivity can be thought of as induced by the patient. This pattern of relating, which is often derived from the patient's past, may then be the basis of interpretation and may be used in the service of the therapeutic process. Counter-transference of this type is termed "reactive."

Reactive counter-transference may further be divided into complementary and concordant types. In the complementary type, feelings are matched; for example, the patient feels afraid while the therapist feels protective. In the concordant type, the therapist feels the same feeling the patient feels--for example, the therapist feels afraid when the patient is afraid. In the latter case, counter-transference feelings occur from the therapist's identification or empathy with the patient. (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2003)

Life, Love and Loss in the Tenderness of the Night

At 29, Doctor Richard Diver has everything going on for him - He has had a Yale education and has been a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford in 1914, has attained a degree from John Hopkins University in 1915, and has written a psychiatry book in Vienna in 1916. In 1917, he is drafted to France for the war, but is given orders not to take up arms but to finish his degree and to be part of a neurological unit. In 1919, Dick, discharged, returns to Zurich and meets up with Franz Gregorovius, a colleague. As they make their way to Doctor Dohmler's clinic, Franz tells Dick the history of Nicole...

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