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Watson, R.I., Jr. (1996). The Discovery Of The Borderline Patient Through Countertransference. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:80.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:80

The Discovery Of The Borderline Patient Through Countertransference

Robert I. Watson, Jr., Ph.D.

FOLLOWING THE INTERPERSONAL PRESCRIPTION, I will attempt to describe the borderline, anchoring the description as much as possible in the clinical data these patients present. Since it is part of the interpersonal

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perspective on personality to use one's reactions to the individual to elucidate the person's character, this paper will focus on the countertransference of the author and his supervisees to the borderline patient. Here the term "countertransference" is used totalistically, as those thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, whether they be objective or subjective, that interactions with the patient bring forth in the therapist. Examining the borderline through common countertransferential reactions can also be extremely useful therapeutically, because, in the interpersonal perspective, countertransference is an especially important clinical tool with these difficult patients.

Certainly most psychoanalysts who are experts in the treatment of the borderline consider the therapist's countertransferential reaction as being important. Masterson (1976), Kernberg (1975), (1980), Searles (1986), Bromberg (1979), (1992), Epstein (1977), (1979), Meissner (1982–1983), and Winnicott (1947) may all differ in how best to use countertransference, and even in what constitutes countertransference, but all would agree there are powerful emotional reactions that come about when treating borderline patients. These reactions of the therapist are primarily due to a number

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