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Fordham, M. (1969). Heinrich Racker: Transference and counter-transference. London, Hogarth, 1968. pp. xi + 203. 425.. J. Anal. Psychol., 14(2):196-197.

(1969). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 14(2):196-197

Heinrich Racker: Transference and counter-transference. London, Hogarth, 1968. pp. xi + 203. 425.

Review by:
M. Fordham

Edited by:
Mary Williams

In the last 20 years there has been a growing interest in the psychoanalyst's part in his relation to patients. Counter-transference, in particular, has developed from being considered a hindrance to psychoanalytic technique into a far more embracing concept used to cover all a psychoanalyst's responses to his patient's transference. In this they approach Jung's concept of the dialectical process.

Against this wide view, the classical one which recognizes the relevance of counter-transference but seeks to reassert the original use of the word, has been vigorously defended, and other terms for the psychoanalyst's interaction with his patient are then introduced to cover what is not conceived to be counter-transference.

The controversy here runs into the danger of verbal hair-splitting which, indeed, can only be avoided by spelling out in clinical practice just what constitutes counter-transference. Racker's understanding of this has led him to fill his book with clear ‘descriptive generalizations’ and illustrative examples of how the counter-transference neurosis, without denying its negative consequences, can be used to detect the patient's transference. He emphasizes the reciprocal dialectic between the patient's transference and the analyst's counter-transference, the one stimulating the other to provide the basis for therapeutic action in the analytic situation. Thus, the patient's passivity which has played such an important part in discussion of psychoanalytic technique can be scrutinized again from this far more active position.

It is apparent from all that he says about his practice that psychoanalysis has, for him, become essentially a dialectical procedure; there is no attempt to ward off the transference and there is no balking the fact that the analyst as well as the patient has and uses defences against libidinal drives.

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