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Reich, A. (1951). On Counter-Transference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:25-31.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:25-31

On Counter-Transference

Annie Reich, M.D.

The act of understanding the patient's productions in analysis and the ability to respond to them skilfully is not based solely on logical conclusions. Frequently the analyst can observe that insight into the material comes suddenly as if from somewhere within his own mind. Suddenly the confusing incomprehensible presentations make sense; suddenly the disconnected elements become a Gestalt. Equally suddenly, the analyst gets inner evidence as to what his interpretation should be and how it should be given. This type of understanding impresses one as something which is experienced almost passively; 'it happens'. It is not the result of an active process of thinking, like the solution of a mathematical problem. It seems obvious that this kind of insight into the patient's problem is achieved via the analyst's own unconscious. If is as if a partial and short-lived identification with the patient had taken place. The evidence of what is going on in the patient's unconscious, then, is based on an awareness of what is now going on in the analyst's own mind. But this identification has to be a shortlived one. The analyst has to be able to swing back to his outside position in order to be capable of an objective evaluation of what he has just now felt from within.

Anyhow, the tool for understanding is the analyst's own unconscious. When Freud advises that the analyst should listen with free floating attention, he has exactly this in mind. The material should be absorbed by the analyst's unconscious; there should not be any aim-directed censoring or conscious elimination through the analyst's attempts at rational thinking.

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