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Devereux, G. Hoffman, F.H. (1961). Non-Recognition of the Patient by the Therapist: An analysis of a countertransference distortion related to the therapist's professional stance. Psychoanal. Rev., 48C(3):41-61.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Review, 48C(3):41-61

Non-Recognition of the Patient by the Therapist: An analysis of a countertransference distortion related to the therapist's professional stance

George Devereux, Ph.D. and Francis H. Hoffman

The following is a discussion of the failure of two therapists (one analyst and one psychiatrist) to recognize their own patients waiting for them, at the proper time, in the waiting room. Both of these instances of fausse non-reconnaissance coincided with sudden improvements in the emotional status and appearance of two young female patients. Rather than some obvious type of countertransference acting-out such as rejection or denial of attraction, these particular instances of non-recognition were the product of a relatively nonobvious, seldom, mentioned type of countertransference.

The clinical material will be discussed first. Then the dynamics of the two authors' fausse non-reconnaissance will be discussed.

I

Clinical Data

Case I: (F. H. H.) The patient, a 23-year-old woman, married five years, and mother of a four-year-old son, was seen two weeks after the birth of a severely deformed daughter, who had no left arm at all (amelia) and whose left foot protruded from the left hip (phocomelia). Because the baby weighed only slightly more than five pounds, it stayed at the hospital for one week after its mother went home. During that week, the parents did not discuss either the child or their feelings about it.

When the baby was brought home, the mother was “unable” to care for it, or to take up once more any of her housewife's duties, which up to that point had been largely assumed by neighbors.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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