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Geltner, P. (2015). Transference and Countertransference Today, edited by Robert Oelsner, Routledge, East Sussex and New York, 2013, 384pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 75(1):112-115.

(2015). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 75(1):112-115

Transference and Countertransference Today, edited by Robert Oelsner, Routledge, East Sussex and New York, 2013, 384pp.

Review by:
Paul Geltner, DSW

Although the idea that aspects of the countertransference can be conceptualized as a dimension of the transference had been consistently explored in the oeuvre of Sándor Ferenczi, and by his pupils, such as Hann-Kende, it burst forth with new vigor in the late 1940s when Winnicott, Spotnitz, Heimann, and Racker (with Searles soon to follow) converged on the same idea (Geltner, 2013). Thanks to Robert Oelsner's new collection, Transference and Countertransference Today—we can see that in this early period, Heinrich Racker had by far the most fully developed conception of what Winnicott called objective countertransference (not Racker's terminology). Originally published in Spanish in 1952, when Racker was only in his 40s—tragically, he was not to live long—and republished in this volume, “Observations on Countertransference as a Technical Instrument” is an astonishing text that further establishes Racker as one of the truly great psychoanalytic theorist/clinicians.1 He not only apprehended and described a wide scope of the phenomena in this “preliminary communication,” applying the concept to case material in rich detail, he had already mastered some of its clinical implications, especially for the interpretative process—all in only 11 pages! Even more than Heimann's equally great 1950 paper, “On Countertranference,” Racker's paper makes earlier psychoanalytic case studies seem two-dimensional in their single focus on the patient.

[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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