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Angel, E. (1979). The Resolution of a Countertransference Through a Dream of the Analyst. Psychoanal. Rev., 66(1):9-17.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Review, 66(1):9-17

The Resolution of a Countertransference Through a Dream of the Analyst

Ernest Angel, Ph.D.

Gazing from behind thick glasses and unsure of her direction, Sally ventured on heavy footwear into the consulting room. Her age was indefinite, her clothes were nondescript. Only after the glasses and a large, dark-brown shawl were removed was it possible to see her as young.

The new low-cost referral patient was a bookkeeper in a small, downtown company and lived with an aunt in a modest two-bedroom apartment. The story of her childhood sounded like a soap opera, but the voice that conveyed it was cold and impassive. With her mother at work as a waitress and her father most of the time at sea with the merchant marine, Sally's memories of parental attention were scarce. On one of his infrequent home-port visits her father found her mother in bed with a sailor. It was his last visit as far as his wife was concerned, but when Sally was sixteen he came back to find out how his daughter was doing. But that visit, which began with both of them sitting on a couch, ended with the father chasing the daughter round the room until she started screaming. And that was that.

Sally's most lasting childhood impression was of her mother coming home at night with male visitors, carrying cases of bottles, and then laughter and strange noises drifting through her closed bedroom door. When Sally was twelve, a sister of her mother—a social worker who had occasionally looked after her—took her to live with her and sent her to a commercial school.

Sally had seen therapists twice before; the first, she claimed, literally fell asleep while she was talking away. The second did not listen either; she could see him write his bills—the son of a bitch—when she turned her head on the couch.

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