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Imber, R.R. (1990). The Avoidance of Countertransference Awareness in a Pregnant Analyst. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:223-236.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:223-236

The Avoidance of Countertransference Awareness in a Pregnant Analyst

Ruth R. Imber, Ph.D.

AT THOSE TIMES WHEN AN ANALYST is physically or emotionally vulnerable, there is bound to be some effect on his or her work. It is my belief that the analyst's pregnancy is such a time of emotional vulnerability. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of the analyst's vulnerability on countertransference awareness. I believe that the awareness of countertransference reactions may, at such a time, be more defended against than usual. While this resistance to countertransference awareness will, of course, vary from analyst to analyst depending on a variety of individual factors, my own experience suggests that intense, negative countertransference responses may be particularly warded off. This should be seen as a tentative hypothesis which requires more clinical reports for validation.

The subject of the pregnant analyst has received little attention until recently. Fenster, et al (1986) offer an excellent review of the writing on this topic. They refer to only two papers specifically devoted to the phenomenon of countertransference and the pregnant analyst, both of which were unpublished. It is probable that the reasons for this omission go beyond the fact that psychoanalysis was, in the past, a male dominated field. More fundamental is the resistance to countertransference awareness that has been noted by various authors (Racker, 1953) ; (Epstein, 1977) ; (Epstein and Feiner, 1979) ; (Wolf, 1979) ; (Ehrenberg, 1985).

This resistance has been linked to the early view that countertransference


This paper is dedicated to Edward S. Tauber.

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1990)

1 Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Assoc., May, 1989, San Francisco, California.

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