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Ross, J.M. (1997). Boundaries And Boundary Violations. By Glen 0. Gabbard and Eva P. Lester. New York: Basic Books, 1996, 223 pp., $37.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1349-1357.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1349-1357

Boundaries And Boundary Violations. By Glen 0. Gabbard and Eva P. Lester. New York: Basic Books, 1996, 223 pp., $37.00.

Review by:
John Munder Ross

We psychoanalysts have not had an easy time contending with the spectre of boundary violations haunting our discipline from its inception. Sexual transgressions within the sanctity of the psychoanalytic situation have represented—for practitioners and the institutions that train and govern them—a form of incest. A violation, that is, not only of a professional contract but also, by virtue of the transference, of the elemental taboo that is the guarantor of morality and of the civilization that depends on it. Like incest, boundary violations frighten and amaze us.

When it comes to such threats to the “conscience of the analysis,” we have succumbed to the same resistances on which it is our job to cast an unflinching gaze. Like incest between parents and children, sex between analyst and patient has been, for most analysts for many years, quite simply “unthinkable.” And like those infantile “wishes forced upon us by nature and repugnant to morality,” to which Freud (1900) first alluded in his initial discussion of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in the dream book, unhallowed temptations in the consulting room—the analyst's erotic countertransference feelings—have tended to be subject to ready and energetic suppression and subsequent repression.

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