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McIlroy, V. (2002). HEDGES, LAWRENCE E. Terrifying Transferences. Aftershocks of Childhood Trauma. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999. Pp. 497. Hbk £42.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(3):507-508.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(3):507-508

HEDGES, LAWRENCE E. Terrifying Transferences. Aftershocks of Childhood Trauma. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1999. Pp. 497. Hbk £42.50.

Review by:
Valerie McIlroy

Terrifying Transferences, as the title suggests, refers to the fears evoked in both analyst and analysand by the transference when it operates at what Hedges calls the organizing level of development. Other theorists refer to this phenomenon as the psychotic transference and it is certainly an encounter with the primitive mental states of the analy-sand, whether they dwell fully at that developmental stage, or perhaps a primitive pocket encountered in someone who generally functions at a much higher level.

The author brings to this topic his own theoretical concept of four developmentally based listening perspectives that are necessary for understanding four distinctly different types of transferences, resistances, and countertransferences (Hedges 1983). This book addresses the earliest of these developmental stages, where personalities are living out the earliest organizing processes during which what is structured in transference memory is the rupture or breaking of attempts to form sustained organizing channels to the other.

In his introduction, Sanford Shapiro points out that most practising therapists are handicapped by lack of training in treating such patients and little has been written to guide therapist or supervisor. Only in recent years has attention been directed to this level of patient encounter, and often unfortunately, due to their high level of dysfunction, these patients find themselves in clinic situations being treated by novice therapists. However, as the various depth psychologies have begun to consider the necessity of work with primitive mental states, these conditions are increasingly encountered in the analytic consulting room and, from my personal experience, despite some conceptual understanding, it can indeed be terrifying.

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