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Diamond, D. (1992). Gender-Specific Transference Reactions of Male and Female Patients to the Therapist's Pregnancy. Psychoanal. Psychol., 9(3):319-345.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 9(3):319-345

Gender-Specific Transference Reactions of Male and Female Patients to the Therapist's Pregnancy

Diana Diamond, Ph.D.

This article examines the pregnant therapist's experience of transference and countertransference as they are differentially expressed with male and female patients. Because pregnancy represents a concrete manifestation of the therapist's sexuality and fertility, it inevitably intensifies the erotic and maternal aspects of the transference. The different transferential configurations evoked by the therapist's pregnancy for male and female patients contain derivatives of early developmental issues around gestation and birth, and particularly the wish for a child and envy of female reproductive capacity. The divergent developmental pathways of the wish for a child are examined for males and females through a review of the psychoanalytic developmental literature. Case material is presented to illustrate that for both male and female patients, the therapist's pregnancy evokes procreative strivings that stem from a universal identification with the mother and envy of her generative power. However, whereas with female patients the recapitulation of childbearing wishes and their infantile forerunners consolidated female identification, with severely disturbed male patients these wishes precipitated a regressive identification with the mother's procreative functions, often expressed in pregenital terms, and an intensification of oedipal rivalries.

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