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Gitelson, M. (1952). The Emotional Position of the Analyst in the Psycho-Analytic Situation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:1-10.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:1-10

The Emotional Position of the Analyst in the Psycho-Analytic Situation

Maxwell Gitelson, M.D.


The various clinical phenomena which have been called counter-transference occur in the setting of the analytic situation. The analytic situation may be described as the total configuration of interpersonal relationships and interpersonal events which evolve between the psycho-analyst and his patient. The patient's part in this configuration is understood in terms of the transference as discovered by Freud. The analyst's 'normal' rôle has been regarded from the same standpoint. It has been understood that the analyst so conducts himself that the transference in all its aspects develops in its own terms. Classical technique has been directed not towards its manipulation but towards its systematic resolution through analysis. This has been based on the assumption that the analyst is by his own intention and in the eyes of the patient a neutral figure on to whom the patient's centrally significant object relations are displaced.

Nevertheless, we have long been aware of deviations from this in practice. As early as 1910 Freud stated: 'We have begun to consider the "counter-transference", which arises in the physician as a result of the patient's influence on his unconscious feelings (my italics). … We have noticed that every analyst's achievement is limited by what his own complexes and resistances permit …' (1). In our students we have been able to identify 'errors in technique' as due not simply to ignorance, but often to intrusions from their own emotions and attitudes towards the patient.

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