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Orr, D.W. (1954). Transference and Countertransference: A Historical Survey. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:621-670.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:621-670

Transference and Countertransference: A Historical Survey

Douglass W. Orr, M.D.


It is difficult to summarize an article which is itself a summary. I have attempted to review historically the psychoanalytic concepts of transference and countertransference from two points of view: (1) definition and meaning as psychological phenomena, particularly as encountered in psychoanalytic therapy; and (2) technical handling during the process of psychoanalytic treatment. I did not undertake to discuss other aspects of psychoanalytic technique or to deal with the related and tremendously important subject of theory of neurosis. It would appear, however, that further clarification of the concepts of transference and countertransference as well as of other issues of psychoanalytic technique must await a better integration of ego psychology, and particularly more definitive knowledge of early ego development, into psychoanalytic psychology and theory of neurosis. There is almost universal agreement on the crucial importance of transference and countertransference in clinical psychoanalysis, but far from unanimous agreement on how these concepts are to be understood and still less on how the phenomena themselves are to be dealt with in psychoanalytic treatment.

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