Volume 15, 2015
The Anachronous Other: Empathy and Transference in Early Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis
This article discusses our experience of other people from both phenomenological and psychoanalytic perspectives. Drawing on Husserl and Freud, I will distinguish between different temporal modes of the other: while Husserl carefully examines the ways in which others are constituted as synchronous (present) or as asynchronous (past), Freud underlines that others may also appear in a temporally displaced, anachronous manner, whereby one’s experience of some past other dominates in the experience of the present other. Freud discusses this third kind of relationship to the other under the rubric “transference”. The main objective of this article is to argue that the Freudian concept of transference is a structural element in our experience of others, and that, in this respect, the psychoanalytic concept of transference should be seen as complementing the phenomenological account of empathy and interpersonal understanding.