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Purcell, S.D. (2004). The analyst's theory: A third source of countertransference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):635-652.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):635-652

The analyst's theory: A third source of countertransference Language Translation

Stephen D. Purcell

The author asserts that the analyst s theory, personal and/or academic, is an important source of countertransference which complicates our traditional understanding of the analyst s emotional responses as being constructed from a mix of his transferences and the patient's effects on him. From this perspective, theory—because it has no intrinsic relevance to the essential phenomena of individual analytic processes—may be a confounding, as well as a necessary, factor in clinical work. Although the analyst's theory might be conceptualized as a component of his personality that shapes his emotional reactions to a patient, the author believes that there is a valuable increment of conceptual clarity and additional clinical utility to thinking about a more direct role of theory in the process of countertransference formation. He uses aspects of the clinical analysis of narcissistic resistances to illustrate how some theories might predispose an analyst to confounding unconscious enactments by generating either positive or negative counter transferences which can be used defensively by the patient and/or analyst. He also illustrates how, in some contexts, an analyst's theory might attenuate potentially informative countertransference reactions and interfere in this way with the analyst's apprehension of the patient's psychic functioning. Finally the author addresses the importance of ‘fit’ between an analyst's working theory and a patient's psychopathology, and considers implications of his ideas for psychoanalytic training and practice.

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