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Seelig, B.J. Person, E.S. (1991). A Sadomasochistic Transference: Its Relation to Distortions in the Rapprochement Subphase. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:939-965.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:939-965

A Sadomasochistic Transference: Its Relation to Distortions in the Rapprochement Subphase

Beth J. Seelig, M.D. and Ethel S. Person, M.D.


The development of a rageful sadomasochistic transference early in an analysis is presented. We describe key interventions that foster its resolution and offer a reconstruction of the patient's early life, focusing on difficulty in the rapprochement phase. We believe that the intense and difficult to manage sadomasochistic transference was linked to a repudiation of both preoedipal and oedipal triangulation, resulting in the perpetuation of a hostile dependent mother-child dyad and in the patient's unconscious belief that sadomasochistic interactions were the only means of establishing and maintaining a close relationship.

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