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Samuels, A. (1985). Countertransference, The ‘Mundus Imaginalis’ and A Research Project. J. Anal. Psychol., 30(1):47-71.

(1985). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 30(1):47-71

Countertransference, The ‘Mundus Imaginalis’ and A Research Project

Andrew Samuels


The Evolution of the idea of countertransference evokes the entire history of analysis itself. The move away from a biological to a human and imaginal vision of the analytical process is exemplified in the enormous shift in attitude towards countertransference. In this paper I explore some links between current understandings of countertransference and the mundus imaginalis, the imaginal world, a term deriving from a different discipline but useful and suggestive in a variety of ways. To effect the link between a clinical concept such as countertransference and the mundus imaginalis, I will be making use of a research project I have conducted in which the countertransference experiences of nearly thirty psychotherapists have been collected, collated and evaluated. I think this is one of the earliest projects of its kind and the empirical approach gives a firm base to my overall intent. This is to propose a theory harnessing together the functional realities of the analyst's profession and its implicit value system or ideology—a marriage of technique and soul, data and emotion, questionnaire and rhetoric, process and content, relationship and image, left and right hemispheric activity. If I speak of the analyst's use of himself, I am concerned with his ethos, his attitude towards his behaviour, his self-conception.

Here is a brief illustration of the phenomena with which I am dealing. The words are those of one of the therapists who collaborated in the project:

Veronica is 20 and single. She is depressed and lives at home with her parents: she works for a bank. At school she was a model pupil and head girl. She started drinking heavily in her late teens and turned down several offers of university

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