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Wilson, M. (2013). Desire and Responsibility: The Ethics of Countertransference Experience. Psychoanal Q., 82(2):435-476.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(2):435-476

Original Article

Desire and Responsibility: The Ethics of Countertransference Experience

Mitchell Wilson

The analyst's desire expressed in impactful wishes and intentions is foundational to countertransference experience, yet undertheorized in the literature. The “wider” countertransference view, associated with neo-Kleinian theory, obscures the nature of countertransference and the analyst's contribution to it. A systematic analysis of the logic of desire as an intentional mental state is presented. Racker's (1957) talion law and Lacan's (1992) theory of the dual relation illustrate the problems that obtain with a wholesale embrace of the wider countertransference perspective. The ethical burden placed on the analyst in light of the role played by desire in countertransference is substantial. Lacan's ethics of desire and Benjamin's (2004) concept of the moral third are discussed.

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