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Karamanolaki, H. (2012). The difficulty of being together without being the same: Identifications and differentiations in countertransference. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 21(3):189-194.

(2012). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 21(3):189-194

The difficulty of being together without being the same: Identifications and differentiations in countertransference

Hara Karamanolaki


The psychoanalytic encounter (Begegnung) is the starting point of the analyst's and analysand's journey. For this journey to be productive, it is necessary for the analyst to be able to identify with the analysand, thus being able to feel and understand what he or she feels. Both analyst and analysand contribute to this mostly unconscious identification. Sometimes, however, a merging relationship can be created as a result of traumatic traces and unresolved transference conflicts in the mind of the analyst. This merging, excluding any “third” between the analyst and the analysand, can provide shelter from the psychic pain of mourning the loss of the other, but can also hinder development and creativity. This is when the working-through of the analyst's countertransference can allow the analytic thought to be the “third” and the merging relationship to be interrupted. The differentiation of the analyst is the necessary precondition for the subsequent differentiation of the analysand. This paper discusses this situation based on a clinical case in which a dream of the analyst initiated her reflective process and, by working through the countertransference, the analytic process was facilitated.

[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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