Why is psychoanalysis the study of transference and resistance?

Freud said the study of psychoanalysis is the study of transference and resistance. What is resistance? You come into therapy, you’re told to say everything, put all your thoughts and feelings into words, into the space. It’s impossible, you get close but it’s impossible. Resistance is the impediment to doing so.

There’s internal and external resistances. Internal resistance occurs when you come in, lie on the couch, and can’t think of anything to say. I’ve had many patients tell me, “I’ve got no thoughts, I’ve got nothing to say.” If you’re alive, your brain is going, you’re thinking. They are resisting putting those thoughts and feelings into words. Patients may consciously resist: “I don’t want to say that. It may be offensive, may hurt the feelings of the therapist, may make me look bad.”

External resistances are those occurring outside of the realm of the patient: There is a traffic jam. “I couldn’t get here on time.” It’s called resistance because the question is, why didn’t you leave earlier? Everybody has resistance. The ability to say everything is, as I said, impossible but people get close. ~ Rafael Sharón, NCPsyA, SCPsyA, Psychoanalyst in Princeton NJ