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Almond, R. (1995). The Analytic Role: A Mediating Influence In The Interplay Of Transference And Countertransference. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:469-494.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:469-494

The Analytic Role: A Mediating Influence In The Interplay Of Transference And Countertransference

Richard Almond

Recognition of the analyst's subjective involvement has led to profound reconsideration of the nature of mutative process. How is it that the analyst can be personally involved in an unconscious way, yet also be an “objective” participant in the relationship? The paper proposes that the analyst's subjectivity is mediated by his or her role. The analytic role conditions how the analyst listens, experiences, and behaves, leading to interactive outcomes different from that expectable from unmodified subjectivity.

The paper describes the analytic role in terms of contributions from metapsychology, clinical theory, and tactics. Each affects the function of the analyst-at-work in a different way. The analytic role, learned during training, is maintained by a combination of internalization and ongoing involvement in psychoanalytic activities. A clinical illustration demonstrates how a typical transference-countertransference enactment is influenced by the analytic role. The vignette suggests ways in which the concept of role modifies the effect of subjectivity.

Three recent viewpoints—those of Renik, Ehrenberg, and Hoffman—that challenge previous theories of mutative process are discussed in terms of the analytic role. In each case, consideration of role clarifies the nature of the innovative technique or view, and seeming contradictions between it and existing clinical theory.

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