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Racker, H. (1957). The Meanings and Uses of Countertransference. Psychoanal Q., 26:303-357.

(1957). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 26:303-357

The Meanings and Uses of Countertransference

Heinrich Racker, Ph.D.


Freud describes transference as both the greatest danger and the best tool for analytic work. He refers to the work of making the repressed past conscious. Besides these two implied meanings of transference, Freud gives it a third meaning: it is in the transference that the analysand may relive the past under better conditions and in this way rectify pathological decisions and destinies. Likewise three meanings of countertransference may be differentiated. It too may be the greatest danger and at the same time an important tool for understanding, an assistance to the analyst in his function as interpreter. Moreover, it affects the analyst's behavior; it interferes with his action as object of the patient's re-experience in that new fragment of life that is the analytic situation, in which the patient should meet with greater understanding and objectivity than he found in the reality or fantasy of his childhood.

What have present-day writers to say about the problem of countertransference?

Lorand (16) writes mainly about the dangers of countertransference for analytic work. He also points out the importance of taking countertransference reactions into account, for they may indicate some important subject to be worked through with the patient. He emphasizes the necessity of the analyst being always aware of his countertransference, and discusses specific problems such as the conscious desire to heal, the relief analysis may afford the analyst from his own problems, and narcissism and the interference of personal motives in clinical purposes.

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