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Wrye, H.K. Welles, J.K. (1989). The Maternal Erotic Transference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:673-684.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:673-684

The Maternal Erotic Transference

Harriet Kimble Wrye and Judith K. Welles


After reviewing literature on gender and erotic transferences, which have often been treated as primarily problematic, this paper offers a positive and transformational view of aspects of what is called the maternal erotic transference (MET). Rooted in mother and baby's earliest sensual contacts, it manifests in concrete transferences to the real parts of the body of the therapist; its expressions are typically inhibited as preverbal and/or defended against out of shame and fear of humiliation.

Analysts of both genders who have access to their own maternal erotic countertransferences and their patients' matching transferences may enable their patients' acceptance of and immersion in the maternal erotic transference in its loving and sado-masochistic permutations and thus foster the making of a sense of wholeness, and connectedness to living. Experienced thus, MET may herald the transition in the analysis from a dyadic to a triadic oedipal phase animated by accessible pre-oedipal aggressivity and sensuality.

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