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Olinick, S.L. (1964). The Negative Therapeutic Reaction. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:540-548.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:540-548

The Negative Therapeutic Reaction

Stanley L. Olinick


1. Misconceptions about the syndrome of the negative therapeutic reaction are reviewed and discussed. A selective review of the historical development of the concept of the reaction is presented.

2. The ego psychology of the negative therapeutic reaction is reviewed and discussed as a special case of negativism—that is, as an acute, recurrent, negativistic emotional crisis in a sadomasochistic person who is prone to depression. The syndrome represents a category of superego resistance.

3. The recurrent pattern of living of those prone to the negative therapeutic reaction is of intolerance of gratification. At its height, the depressive, sadomasochistic rage is projected and often induced in the other person. Defences are directed against expected inner loss and helpless regression to the primary identification with the depressed mother. Schematically, sadomasochism 'projects' depression, and negativism 'rejects' depression.

4. The therapeutic management is presented with particular emphasis on the frequent transference-countertransference tensions. Schematically, interpretation proceeds from the side of negativism through the alloplastic, projective defences, to the task of analysis of depression.

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