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Tip: To sort articles by year…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

After you perform a search, you can sort the articles by Year. This will rearrange the results of your search chronologically, displaying the earliest published articles first. This feature is useful to trace the development of a specific psychoanalytic concept through time.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Raphling, D.L. (1991). Understanding Countertransference. From Projective Identification to Empathy: By Michael J. Tansey and Walter F. Burke. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1989. 222 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 60:121-124.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 60:121-124

Understanding Countertransference. From Projective Identification to Empathy: By Michael J. Tansey and Walter F. Burke. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, 1989. 222 pp.

Review by:
David L. Raphling

This detailed and comprehensive book on countertransference written by two clinical psychologists, Tansey and Burke, is directed primarily to the practice of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, although it is relevant to the technique of psychoanalysis as well. The book is an extremely well-organized and coherent exposition of the thesis that the therapist's (or analyst's) ability to understand patients always involves the mechanisms of projective and introjective identification. The authors' conceptual framework is a creative integration of various theoretical approaches to describing and understanding countertransference, empathy, and projective identification. Their explanatory theory, though intricate, preserves the immediacy of the clinical observations upon which it is based.

The book begins with a thorough review of the literature and a discussion of countertransference, empathy, and projective identification as intimately related processes. The authors take the "totalistic" position that countertransference encompasses virtually all of the experience of the analyst at work. Tansey and Burke are among an increasing number of analysts who no longer consider countertransference to be undesirable and an obstacle to analysis. They do not limit countertransference to the analyst's predominantly unconscious (neurotic) reactions to a patient's transference.

The authors dissect the analyst's total response in order to understand the ways in which both empathy and countertransference operate as intrapsychic phenomena that require the participation of another individual. They have examined the capacity of a patient to induce in the analyst an experiential state which also reflects the analyst's own affects and fantasies. They accord a central role in this induction process to the complementary phenomena of projective and introjective identification. They have effectively described projective identification as the unconsciously motivated activity by which a patient attempts to induce the analyst to experience and conform to a projected image. They believe that a projective identification, when introjected by the analyst, has the potential both to provoke a countertransference reaction and evoke the trial identifications characteristic of empathy.

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