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Cooper, A.M. (1986). Some Limitations on Therapeutic Effectiveness: The "Burnout Syndrome" in Psychoanalysts. Psychoanal Q., 55:576-598.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:576-598

Some Limitations on Therapeutic Effectiveness: The "Burnout Syndrome" in Psychoanalysts

Arnold M. Cooper, M.D.


Problems of maintaining psychoanalytic therapeutic effectiveness during a professional lifetime are discussed. Psychoanalysts are subject to paradoxical emotional and characterologic demands, uncompensated by the usual gratifications available in the healing professions. Problems arising from the analyst's character and the paucity of data in the field are discussed. "Burnout" syndromes are liable to occur in those working in a setting of great emotional intensity demanding high degrees of affective awareness and control, empathy and tolerance of uncertainty. Masochistic and narcissistic forms of "burnout" syndrome are described as they occur in psychoanalysts. The profession, as well as the individual, can help to prevent these syndromes.

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