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Pick, I.B. (1985). Working Through in the Countertransference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:157-166.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:157-166

Working Through in the Countertransference Related Papers

Irma Brenman Pick

In this paper I hope to explore something about the complex interaction that takes place between analyst and analysand in our everday work. Bion made the succinct remark that when two people get together they make a relationship whether they like it or not; this applies to all encounters including psychoanalysis.

Strachey (1934), in his now classic paper, spoke of a true transference interpretation being that which the analyst most feared and most wished to avoid, yet later went on to say that in receiving a transference interpretation, the patient has the experience of expressing murderous impulses toward the analyst and of the analyst interpreting these without anxiety or fear. Strachey is clearly implying that the full or deep transference experience is disturbing to the analyst; that which the analyst most fears and most wishes to avoid. He also says that conveying an interpretation in a calm way to the patient is necessary. The area I wish to address is this ambiguous problem, this walking the tightrope between experiencing disturbance and responding with interpretation that does not convey disturbing anxiety.

Whilst earlier understanding regarded countertransference as something extraneous rather than integral, Heimann (1950) showed the use of the countertransference as an important tool for psychoanalysis and differentiated this from the pathological countertransference response. Whilst this differentiation is an essential part of our psychoanalytic endeavour, I wish to show how problematic the clinical reality is.

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