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Morrel, A. (1992). Countertransference and the Analyst's Response to It: Feelings About Feelings. Mod. Psychoanal., 17(1):85-99.

(1992). Modern Psychoanalysis, 17(1):85-99

Countertransference and the Analyst's Response to It: Feelings About Feelings

Andrew Morrel, Ph.D.

In recent years, the controversy within the psychoanalytic community regarding the meaning and value of countertransference has finally abated, and something of a consensus appears to be within reach. There seems to be an acceptance of the inevitability of countertransference reactions and, beyond that, a positive valuation of these reactions insofar as they represent a unique way of coming to know the patient's inner world. It is also broadly acknowledged that since patients are always expressing feelings to their analysts, often in ways that do not involve words, analysts cannot be content to merely analyze the semantic content of a patient's communication but must investigate the feelings it evokes in them as well. Thus, though many technical questions remain regarding if, how and when to communicate one's countertransferential response back to the patient, the understanding and managing of one's countertransference now seems to be viewed as an integral part of any analytically oriented treatment.

One of the theoretical innovations which has paved the way for this growing acceptance of countertransference as an essential way of knowing the other is the distinction between objective and subjective, or homogeneous and idiosyncratic (Giovacchini, 1991) countertransference. Broadly speaking, one could say that the patient strives unconsciously to recreate within the treatment the bipersonal field (Langs, 1976) of early childhood and that the objective (or homogeneous) countertransference refers to the analyst's inner experience of an affective state which accurately reflects the emotional tenor of the mother-child dialogue.

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