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Gabbard, G.O. (1994). Sexual Excitement and Countertransference Love in the Analyst. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:1083-1106.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:1083-1106

Sexual Excitement and Countertransference Love in the Analyst

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.


The psychoanalytic literature has been remarkably silent on the subject of erotic countertransference feelings. The recent emphasis on transference-countertransference enactments in the analytic setting has resulted in increased openness about development of such feelings. Several key themes appear to be involved in the analyst's sexual excitement, including loss of the "as-if" nature of transference and countertransference, a measure of hostility and contempt, the perception of a deficit state in the patient, a defense against loss and mourning, and oedipal and preoedipal enactments involving a variety of gender configurations. These themes are illustrated with clinical material. The differences between those analysts who contain and constructively process erotic countertransference and those who destructively act it out are also discussed. The crucial role of consultation with a colleague is emphasized as a valuable recourse.

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