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Kaplan, A.G. (1975). Sex in Psychotherapy: The Myth of Sandor Ferenczi. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:175-187.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:175-187

Sex in Psychotherapy: The Myth of Sandor Ferenczi

Alexandra G. Kaplan, Ph.D.

SEXUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN PATIENTS and their therapists, long a clandestine topic, has in recent years become increasingly a fit subject for professional discussion (Dahlberg, 1970). There is much speculation over the extent to which such practices occur, and rather heated debate as to the benefits or harms to patients that ensue. However, this issue has yet to be dealt with completely in the professional literature. As a result, one is left with a lot of innuendo, speculation and fantasy, but little in the way of a systematic evaluation of the impact of sexual relations in terms of the theory or practice of psychotherapy. Recognizing this, Dahlberg (1970) published his introductory article in the hope of "provoking discussion and clarification of the issues involved in a matter that has too long been kept out of the literature." Unfortunately, no such discussion has followed.

What has appeared since Dahlberg's article are two books which present clinical material reporting experiences of sex in psychotherapy. Shepard's The Love Treatment(1971), which is exclusively on this subject, describes a number of therapeutic relationships in which sexual relations occur. Each portrayal is followed by a brief discussion, usually in defense of the practice. Chesler (1972), in one chapter in Women and Madness, gives a series of verbatim reports (from patients) of therapeutically unsuccessful attempts at sex within psychotherapy. These episodes reflect the thesis presented throughout her book that women are exploited and oppressed by the mental health profession. Neither book utilizes its case material, however, for more than a cursory exploration of related therapeutic issues.

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