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de Peyer, J. (2002). Private Terrors: Sexualized Aggression and a Psychoanalyst's Fear of Her Patient. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(4):509-530.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(4):509-530

Private Terrors: Sexualized Aggression and a Psychoanalyst's Fear of Her Patient Related Papers

Janine de Peyer, C.S.W.

This clinical paper explores the meanings and evolution of an analyst's reaction of fear in relation to her patient's sexualized aggression. From both an intrapsychic and an intersubjective perspective, the author analyzes the coconstruction of this transference-countertransference phenomenon. Case vignettes illustrate the author's attempts to address her patient's sexualized aggression while struggling to free herself from the feelings of intimidation and fearfulness stirred by his sadomasochistic fantasies and patterns of interaction. The analyst's unconscious identification with the patient's disowned femininity and narcissistic vulnerability is seen as central to this countertransference “stranglehold.” Release from the analyst's masochistic position comes through a shift in her own affective participation. The importance of the analyst's recognizing her own unconscious contributions to this sadomasochistic dynamic is emphasized and elaborated. Discussion also focuses on the relevance of gender to the issue of countertransference fear, as illustrated in this particular male patient–female analyst dyad.

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