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H., M.J. (1994). Barriers to Love Between Patient and Analyst Presenter: Stanley J. Coen, M.D. February 17, 1994 Kenneth Winarick, Ph.D; Jeffrey Rubin, M.D.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(3):276-277.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(3):276-277

Barriers to Love Between Patient and Analyst Presenter: Stanley J. Coen, M.D. February 17, 1994 Kenneth Winarick, Ph.D; Jeffrey Rubin, M.D.

M. J. H.

Stanley Coen observed that erotic or romantic feelings have been viewed ambivalently from the beginnings of psychoanalysis to the present. He asked if such feelings represent obstacles to the analytic process or if they facilitate growth. Answering from within a personal context, he asserted that gaining and regaining access to passionate feelings such as love and sexual desire can be of “critical usefulness” in his work with patients. Coen challenged the field of analysis in that it appeared to incorporate an ego ideal which “encourages constriction and discomfort for the full range of our loving feelings … and that such closure will interfere with analytic” movement.

He observed that analysts generally find it easier to discuss negative emotions than those of a positive, loving nature. It was his contention that to treat such feelings as ‘illegitimate’ could lead to unproductive debate, argumentation, and feelings of rejection, resulting in a “fear of analytic exploration … But if the analyst can tolerate [the knowledge of his/her loving feelings] he or she can draw upon it to learn about new developments in counter-tranference in order to assist analysis.”

Coen discussed the dynamics common to the ‘analytic couple’ which inhibit feelings, pointing up the possible sado-masochistic elements present in the relationship. Obstacles to growth exist in “whatever fixes the analytic couple, not just the patient, on negative, hopeless, bitter, rejecting [feelings that] can serve as a barrier to optimism, change, and love …” He stated that love, while not to be used in an attempt to avoid hatred, is needed “to temper hatred sufficiently.

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