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Mohr, P. (2015). Emotional communication. Countertransference analysis and the use of feeling in psychoanalytic technique. Psychoanal. Psychother., 29(1):107-110.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 29(1):107-110

Book Reviews

Emotional communication. Countertransference analysis and the use of feeling in psychoanalytic technique

Review by:
Petra Mohr

This book is about what happens on an emotional level when two people communicate. Referring to Stern's (1985) seminal text on infancy, Paul Geltner argues that human communication consists of a cognitive and an emotional element. Cognitive communication relates to facts and stimulates thought. Emotional communication conveys something about the speaker's feelings. Analogous to understanding the language of the speaker in cognitive communication, an emotional communication succeeds in its aim if it induces a feeling in the listener/receiver that is directly related to the speaker/sender's intention.

Geltner gives a brief outline of psychoanalytic theories relating to emotional communication, from Freud, Ferenczi, Balint, Winnicott, Searles and Spotnitz, and the history of analysing counter-transference as a tool in psychoanalysis. He goes on to describe evolutionary and developmental motivations for emotional communication. Geltner outlines how emotional communication pre-dates language acquisition and, unlike cognitive communication, is also used by other mammals. An animal's ability to accurately understand another animal's emotional states is crucial to its survival, just as – and here Geltner refers to Klein and Bion – it is important for the mother to feel what her baby feels and needs in order to guide how she cares for and interacts with him.

Emotional communication plays a vital part in repetition compulsion through actively recreating the past in the present by inducing old feelings in new objects.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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