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Hallerman, B. (1994). Impasse and Progress in Analysis: On Working Through and its Vicissitudes in Patient and Analyst Presenter: Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(4):363-364.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(4):363-364

Scientific Meetings of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

Impasse and Progress in Analysis: On Working Through and its Vicissitudes in Patient and Analyst Presenter: Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D.

Betsy Hallerman, C.S.W.

The following presentations were featured at a day-long seminar sponsored by the Association on March 5, 1994, at the Farkas Auditorium of the New York University Medical Center. The seminar was entitled “Countertransference and the Therapeutic Impasse.” The speakers were Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, New York Psychoanalytic Institute, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Glen 0. Gabbard, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis, Director of the C. F. Menninger Memorial Hospital; James T. McLaughlin, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Institute, Clinical Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Univeristy of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Evelyne Albrecht Schwaber, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Institute of New England.

The key to resolving a countertransference impasse, according to Theodore Jacobs, lies in the analyst's process of “working through.” Jacobs notes that while much has been written about “working through” from the point of view of the patient, relatively little has been said about its ongoing role for the analyst in removing countertransference impediments. Jacobs asserts that what has been written on the subject has failed to appreciate the depth and persistence of the analyst's unresolved conflicts, and the need for continual engagement and reworking of these issues as they emerge in treatment. In Jacobs’ view residual conflicts in the analyst inevitably resurface over the course of an analysis, either as remnants of unfinished analytic work, or as material that has heretofore been unavailable to intervention. Jacobs maintains that a parallel process frequently characterizes the patient's current conflicts and those that have remained embedded in the analyst's character structure. He asserts that a countertransference impasse occurs when the analyst fails to recognize and work through his own defensive strategies and instead unconsciously relies on them as he conducts treatment. The countertransference impasse, then, can be understood as a kind of analytic gridlock in which neither patient nor analyst can budge from his tenaciously held position.


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