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Searles, H.F. (1959). Oedipal Love in the Counter Transference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:180-190.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:180-190

Oedipal Love in the Counter Transference

Harold F. Searles, M.D.

This paper will advance three hypotheses which, as will be shown, are interrelated: (a) in the course of a successful psycho-analysis, the analyst goes through a phase of reacting to, and eventually relinquishing, the patient as being his oedipal love-object; (b) in normal personality-development, the parent reciprocates the child's oedipal love with greater intensity than we have recognized heretofore; and (c) in such normal development, the passing of the Oedipus complex is at least as important a phase in ego-development as in superego-development.

Since I began doing psycho-analysis and intensive psychotherapy nine years ago, I have found, time after time, that in the course of the work with every one of my patients who has progressed to, or very far toward, a thoroughgoing analytic cure, I have experienced romantic and erotic desires to marry, and fantasies of being married to, the patient. Such fantasies and emotions have appeared in me usually relatively late in the course of treatment, have been present not briefly but usually for a number of months, and have subsided only after my having experienced a variety of feelings—frustration, separation-anxiety, grief, and so forth—entirely akin to those which attended what I experienced as the resolution of my Oedipus complex late in my personal analysis—specifically, about five years ago.

As I shall detail later on, with the first few patients toward whom I found myself having such feelings, I reacted with much anxiety, embarrassment, and guilt.

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