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Kernberg, O.F. (1994). Love in the Analytic Setting. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:1137-1157.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:1137-1157

Love in the Analytic Setting

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.


In the context of viewing the analytic setting as a "clinical laboratory" to study the nature of love relations, this paper starts by outlining the relationships of transference love, "normal" love, neurotic love, and oedipal love. After a description of the vicissitudes of transference love when patient and analyst are of the same sex and of opposite sex, developments of transference love regarding homosexual and heterosexual longings in neurotic and narcissistic pathology are considered.

Countertransference reactions in response to transference love are explored next, with emphasis on conditions under which erotic countertransference may become particularly intense. In describing the technical management of erotic countertransference, the analyst's ability to explore his own feelings and fantasies without constraint is stressed.

The usefulness of understanding the erotic countertransference in arriving at transference interpretations is illustrated by a clinical case of a female patient with a neurotic personality structure and predominantly masochistic conflicts.

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