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Armony, N. (1975). Countertransference: Obstacle and Instrument. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:265-280.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:265-280

Countertransference: Obstacle and Instrument

Nahman Armony, M.D.

IT WAS MY INTENTION in this essay to examine countertransference as an obstacle to analysis, and as an instrument of understanding of the analysand's unconscious. However, as I developed the paper, it became necessary to make a general presentation of the possible interpersonal relationships that exist in analytic situations. Thus, this paper includes an outline of a systematization of the interpersonal relationships found in analysis so that those conditions that cause countertransference to be either obstacle or instrument may be fully explored.

The extent and the meanings of the term "countertransference" vary considerably. Sandler et al.(1973) summarized the various meanings of countertransference found in the literature: (1) The "resistences" of the analyst resulting from the activation of his inner conflicts, which interfere with his ability to understand as well as with his handling of the analysis since they cause "blind spots"; (2) The "transference" to the patient. Here the patient becomes the present substitute of a significant figure of the analyst's childhood; (3) The disturbance in the process of communication between the analyst and the patient resulting from the analyst's anxieties in the patient—therapist relationship; (4) The analyst's characteristics of personality reflected in his work and which may or may not cause difficulties in the therapy. The totality of the analyst's unconscious attitudes towards his patients; (5) The specific handicaps of the analyst which are made evident by certain patients and the analyst's reaction to the patient's transference; (6) The "normal" or appropriate emotional response of the analyst to his patient which might be an important therapeutic tool and the basis for empathy and understanding. (pp.

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