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Jacobs, T.J. (1999). Countertransference Past And Present: A Review Of The Concept. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(3):575-594.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(3):575-594

Countertransference Past And Present: A Review Of The Concept

Theodore J. Jacobs

My purpose in this paper is to review the major trends and developments in the evolution of the concept of countertransference. I will do so from my own perspective; that is, from the viewpoint of one American analyst, trained in a classical institute, who has had a long-standing interest in this issue.

Although I will attempt to describe some of the questions and controversies that have surrounded the idea of countertransference as well as the viewpoints of many of those who have written on the subject, I will make no attempt to be all-inclusive. My effort, rather, will be to present an overview of a concept, long in the shadows, that has emerged as one of the issues most actively discussed and debated in psychoanalysis today.

Looking back on the final decades of the twentieth century, in fact, future historians of psychoanalysis may well designate this period the countertransference years; for in this time few concepts in our field have gained as much attention, have been as widely explored and written about, and have been the subject of as much controversy as has the question of countertransference and its role in the analytic process. Certainly in America, but also, to a considerable extent worldwide, countertransference and the closely related issues of inter-subjectivity, enactments, self-analysis and the question of neutrality have taken centre stage as matters with which contemporary analysts are much preoccupied.

One could say, then, of countertransference, that it is a concept whose time has come; or perhaps more accurately, that it is a concept that, like the proverbial groundhog, has emerged into the sunlight when the conditions were right after having previously poked its head into the air, tested the weather, and retreated below ground.

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