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Racker, H. (1958). Counterresistance and Interpretation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:215-221.

(1958). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6:215-221

Counterresistance and Interpretation

Heinrich Racker, Ph.D.


This paper deals with the resistances which may arise in the analyst against communicating to the patient points he has observed or comprehended. These "counterresistances" indicate (as do the patient's resistances against communicating certain thoughts) the most important conflicts within the patient. For the counterresistances are as a rule the expression of the analyst's identification with the patient's resistances, even though they may at the same time be related to a conflict within the analyst.

The patient's resistance to an interpretation shows, according to Freud, that the latter has been incomplete. Analogously, the counterresistance to giving an interpretation means that the understanding it embodies is as yet incomplete. The cause of these counterresistances thus often lies in the fact that the understanding in question embraced only part of the patient's personality. The understanding may, for instance, have referred to the id, without having taken the ego sufficiently into consideration, or may have referred to an aggressive tendency of the patient's without having included the reaction of his libidinal wishes.

The importance of the analyst's perceiving these counterresistances and overcoming them may be essential, for they are usually responses of his to decisive transference conflicts within the patient. Besides, the postponement of interpretations, deemed premature, also frequently is due to these counterresistances. In such cases, these interpretations are not really "premature, " but simply incomplete. By completing them, considerable loss of time may be avoided.

The means whereby such counterresistances are to be overcome follows from the above: discovering what had been overlooked in the patient's personality, i.e., the cause of the patient's resistance which the analyst had already sensed and echoed in his own counterresistance.

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