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Abend, S.M. (1982). Serious Illness in the Analyst: Countertransference Considerations. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 30:365-379.

(1982). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 30:365-379

Serious Illness in the Analyst: Countertransference Considerations

Sander M. Abend, M.D.

SOME YEARS AGO I had an illness that necessitated interruption of my practice for a number of weeks. There was a substantial interval between the establishment of the diagnosis and the actual institution of treatment, during which I was able to continue working, so there was ample opportunity for me to consult with colleagues about how best to handle the situation with my patients. As Dewald (1982) points out, the literature offers next to nothing of use on the subject, a fact which in itself requires explanation. I made notes on my patients' reactions to what I told them in anticipation of the break in our work together, and then again after its resumption. However, without much critical self-examination, I subsequently decided that what I had observed was not worth reporting. When the opportunity arose to discuss Dewald's excellent and courageous study, which focuses on his own as well as his patients' reactions, I was stimulated to reconsider my material and the reasons for having put it aside.

It is my intention to raise certain questions about the technical management of these situations when they arise, and about the role of countertransference reactions in influencing technical decisions.

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