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Polledri, P. (2014). Transference and Countertransference Today edited by Robert Oelsner. Published by Routledge, in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 2013; 361 pp; £34.99 paperback. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(4):544-547.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(4):544-547

Transference and Countertransference Today edited by Robert Oelsner. Published by Routledge, in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, 2013; 361 pp; £34.99 paperback

Review by:
Patricia Polledri

This volume of 17 essays is a collection of contemporary material dealing with the two interrelated subjects, transference and countertransference, that make up the core of psychoanalytic work. As Bion says: ‘When two personalities meet, an emotional storm is created’ (1979, p. 247). I have aimed in this review to focus on what the book offers over and above regurgitating known theoretical concepts on these topics (covered so comprehensively in each chapter), as each author provides distinctive theoretical perspectives in both adult and child patients from Europe, Latin America and North America.

In the Introduction, Oelsner, as editor, sets out what is and what is not deemed to be transference according to its content - as information that circulates between patient and analyst. Not everything the patient brings to analysis is transference, he states, but rather the transference of the patient's total situation from the infantile past to the present needs to be teased out from the totality of the material in the session (p. 4).

In the contributions throughout this volume, Racker is the most often quoted theorist, after Freud, on the subject of transference and countertransference. Racker understands the countertransference to be a receptive organ that captures unnoticed and sometimes silent transferences. He discussed how an analyst's negative countertransference reactions may emanate from the patient, sabotaging the analyst's capacity to contain. This subtle negative transference, if rife with guilt, rivalry and especially envy, can create a perplexing impasse and a frustration of the analyst's desire to cure.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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