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Frosch, J.P. (1990). Understanding Countertransference: From Projective Identification to Empathy: By Michael J. Tansey and Walter F. Burke. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1989. Pp. 222.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:351-354.
    

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:351-354

Understanding Countertransference: From Projective Identification to Empathy: By Michael J. Tansey and Walter F. Burke. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. 1989. Pp. 222.

Review by:
James P. Frosch

After a period of relative neglect, the study of countertransference has finally come into its own—with a vengeance. Many observers have noted that the development of attitudes towards the countertransference has followed a similar path as those towards the transference. Initially regarded as regrettable and disruptive, it was then viewed as still regrettable but potentially useful, and finally as inevitable and essential to the therapeutic process. During this type of evolution excesses inevitably occur, and we can expect there will be those who regard the countertransference as not just an important thing but everything, and that eventually a balanced consensus will develop, a consensus which does justice to the complex, multifaceted nature of the analytic process. In the midst of the current excitement, it is sobering to re-read some of the papers from the first flowering of countertransference literature in the early 1950s, and to find that most of the current questions were well known and hotly debated by analysts thirty years ago (Orr, 1954).

Then as now, the first difficulty is that, while we all agree that the countertransference is important, few of us can agree on what it is. Some prefer to use a restricted definition, reserving the word to describe the analyst's unconscious displacement of a figure from his own life on to the patient, while others broaden the definition to include all reactions towards the patient, both conscious and unconscious, both those stemming primarily from the analyst's conflicts and those primarily evoked by the character and behaviour of the patient.

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