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Welles, J.K. Wrye, H.K. (1991). The Maternal Erotic Countertransference. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 72:93-106.

(1991). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 72:93-106

The Maternal Erotic Countertransference

Judith K. Welles and Harriet Kimble Wrye


This paper reviews literature on countertransference erotism and perversion, and offers our conception of the maternal erotic countertransference. We stress that sado-masochistic issues are not only issues of aggression, but represent pre-oedipal erotism as well. The analyst's struggle with these issues may contribute to a perverse misalliance instead of a creative coupling. It is typical of the perverse misalliance that it contains a refusal to participate, with all the attendant disinterest and deadness and lack of creativity usually associated with that condition.

We have emphasized two keys to springing the analyst from the deadlocks of such paralysing countertransferences, thereby opening access to the creative use of both maternal erotic transference and countertransference. First, is the analyst's ability to view herself or himself as maternally erotic; and second, is the analyst's ability to experience, contain and make accessible to analysis the patient's potential erotism, including its perverse aspects.

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