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Clark, A. (2007). Scientific Meeting of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis: The Analyst's Self-Interest: Coasting in the Countertransference Presenter: Irwin Hirsch, Ph.D. date: May 4, 2006. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):103-105.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):103-105

Scientific Meeting of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis: The Analyst's Self-Interest: Coasting in the Countertransference Presenter: Irwin Hirsch, Ph.D. date: May 4, 2006

Andrea Clark, LCSW

Dr. Irwin Hirsch, faculty member, supervisor and former Director of The Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Distinguished Visiting Faculty at The William Alanson White Institute, offered a thought-provoking presentation in which he identified a phenomenon titled, “Coasting in the Countertransference,” an action too frequently committed and left unaddressed in the analytic relationship. “Coasting in the Countertransference” is a term which addresses the analyst's conscious awareness of an unexamined transference-countertransference configuration that allows him to maintain comfort or equilibrium. Hirsch stated that this dynamic is more common than is recognized and that analysts are not the only ones who seek to maintain comfort or equilibrium. Patients often seek to maintain the status quo—leaving the responsibility of addressing familiar interactional patterns up to the analyst. But what if these familiar patterns are all too comfortable for the analyst? They may provide the analyst room to daydream with a particularly detached patient, or a 15-min break because of a patient's consistent lateness, and, perhaps, a feeling of being needed with a dependent patient. In this regard, analyst's and patient's comforts meet and neither one seeks to leave this mutually comfortable place.

Hirsch detailed some ways in which analysts consciously commit acts, which offer the analyst some benefit, while leaving an important area of the analyst-patient dyad unaddressed. Some of these momentary indulgences may take the form of daydreaming or thinking about personal matters, which leaves the patient alone or ignored. Hirsch noted that these indulgences occurred more often with a patient who did not question the analyst's momentary absences. Hirsch shared two contrasting clinical vignettes: M.,

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