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Strean, H.S. (1995). Countertransference and Theoretical Predilections as Observed in Some Psychoanalytic Candidates. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 3(1):105-123.

(1995). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 3(1):105-123

Countertransference and Theoretical Predilections as Observed in Some Psychoanalytic Candidates

Herbert S. Strean

Although it is now accepted as an axiom of psychoanalytic practice that every aspect of the clinician's activity is a reflection of his or her current countertransference position, minimal consideration has been given in the literature to the relationship between the analyst's current countertransference position and his or her current theoretical perspective. Following a brief review of some of the pertinent literature, three case illustrations are presented that demonstrate how psychoanalytic candidates can misuse theoretical constructs to rationalize, rather than analyse, certain countertransference enactments and how their supervisors can collude with them in doing so.

One of the major advances in psychoanalytic theory and practice during the last decade has been the broadening of our understanding and use of the concept of countertransference. From Freud's original dictum that the countertransference arises [in the analyst] as a result of the patient's influence on his unconscious feelings, and we are almost inclined to insist that he shall recognize this countertransference in himself and overcome it (1910, pp. 144-45), current practitioners tend to view countertransference as including “all of the emotional reactions at work” (Abend 1989, p. 374). Rather than an obstacle to be overcome, countertransference is now regarded by most dynamically oriented clinicians as “all those reactions of the analyst to the patient that may help or hinder treatment” (Slakter 1987, p. 3).

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