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Bonasia, E. (2001). The Countertransference: Erotic, Erotised and Perverse. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(2):249-262.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(2):249-262

The Countertransference: Erotic, Erotised and Perverse

Emanuele Bonasia

The author begins by drawing attention to the dearth of psychoanalytic theory on the sexual countertransference, which he attributes largely to embarrassment associated with the personal superego and to fear of censure by the psychoanalytic community. After a review of the relevant literature, he points out that the term ‘countertransference’ arose in the context of misbehaviour by the early analysts and that the countertransference was originally seen as something to be controlled and suppressed, partly for the sake of the reputation of psychoanalysis. Theoretical and normative reasons are adduced for the disappearance of sexuality from psychoanalytic scenarios, and the wish for sexual contact with patients is discussed. While it may be deemed perfectly normal for an analyst to have erotic feelings towards patients of either sex, psychopathology is, in the author's view, involved only if he acts out. Clinical illustrations are given of manifestations of the sexual countertransference in its erotic, erotised and perverse forms, which the author considers it important to distinguish. He concludes that the relative absence of theory on the subject means that not enough clinical use is made of the sexual countertransference, which he sees as of great potential value to therapist and patient alike.

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