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Heimann, P. (1950). On Counter-Transference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 31:81-84.

(1950). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31:81-84

On Counter-Transference

Paula Heimann

This short note on counter-transference has been stimulated by certain observations I made in seminars and control analyses. I have been struck by the widespread belief amongst candidates that the counter-transference is nothing but a source of trouble. Many candidates are afraid and feel guilty when they become aware of feelings towards their patients and consequently aim at avoiding any emotional response and at becoming completely unfeeling and 'detached'.

When I tried to trace the origin of this ideal of the 'detached' analyst, I found that our literature does indeed contain descriptions of the analytic work which can give rise to the notion that a good analyst does not feel anything beyond a uniform and mild benevolence towards his patients, and that any ripple of emotional waves on this smooth surface represents a disturbance to be overcome. This may possibly derive from a misreading of some of Freud's statements, such as his comparison with the surgeon's state of mind during an operation, or his simile of the mirror. At least these have been quoted to me in this connection in discussions on the nature of the counter-transference.

On the other hand, there is an opposite school of thought, like that of Ferenczi, which not only acknowledges that the analyst has a wide variety of feelings towards his patient, but recommends that he should at times express them openly. In her warm-hearted paper 'Handhabung der bertragung auf Grund der Ferenczischen Versuche' (Int. Zeitschr.

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