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Fliess, R. (1953). Countertransference and Counteridentification. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 1:268-284.

(1953). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1:268-284

Countertransference and Counteridentification

Robert Fliess, M.D.

I. COUNTERTRANSFERENCE

The treatment in the literature of psychoanalysis of countertransference and counteridentification suffers from terminologic confusion, which, necessarily, causes confusion of concepts. It is the purpose of this communication to attempt to define the two terms and to oppose to the desirable attitudes of the analyst toward his patient, countertransference and counteridentification as undesirable, on the basis of their definition.

If consistency of designation is required to identify a concept unambiguously, the term "countertransference" must, by virtue of its definition be reserved for the equivalent, in the analyst, of what is termed "transference" in the patient. It is then immediately obvious that countertransference is not, as is transference, an occurrence desirable and prerequisite to the treatment, but undesirable and a hindrance. When the patient transfers infantile conflicts upon the analyst he revives them in a situation in which they may be resolved. When the analyst (counter) transfers upon the patient he revives his own conflicts, which are neither the object of the analysis, nor can they be resolved. The patient, forced to react to a situation which instead of being intrinsic is extrinsic to his past, is, in this case, in an "accident, " not a treatment. Ideally, therefore, countertransference should not occur.

But it does. The technique to abolish it becomes evident if the aforementioned definition is kept in mind. Transference, we have been taught by Freud, must be analyzed when it has become, or is about to become, a resistance; countertransference, always resistance, must always be analyzed.

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