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Jacobs, T.J. (1983). The Analyst and the Patient's Object World: Notes on an Aspect of Countertransference. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 31:619-642.

(1983). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 31:619-642

The Analyst and the Patient's Object World: Notes on an Aspect of Countertransference

Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D.


I have discussed an aspect of the problem of countertransference that has received little comment—the relation of the analyst to objects in his patient's world. Emotional reactions stimulated in the analyst by his perception of such objects can have a profound effect on the course and outcome of his analytic work. Such responses are a product of complex interactions between the impulses, affects, fantasies, and defenses evoked in the therapist by the mental representations he has formed of these objects. Such objects, in fact, can have a variety of meanings for the analyst. Not only are they related to self- and object representations past and present, but they may, in his imagination, be part of a network of interactions involving the patient, his family, and other of his objects as the result of the reawakening in the analyst of fantasies, memories, and expectations derived from his sibling and family relations. Emotional responses aroused in the therapist by the patient may also be displaced onto objects in the patient's world and not be recognized as countertransference phenomena.

Finally, I have commented on the way that reconstructions can be influenced by the analyst's perceptions of his patients' objects, and I have made some note of the special situation when an object in the patient's life is also known to the analyst. While

awareness of his conscious attitudes and feelings toward such objects can serve a useful function for the analyst, too complacent an attitude regarding the protective value of such self-awareness may make difficult his recognition of the link between the image of the object known to both patient and analyst and the reawakened self- and object images of the analyst's childhood—a link that, in fact, constitutes the deepest source of countertransference difficulties.

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