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Schafer, R. (1959). Generative Empathy in the Treatment Situation. Psychoanal Q., 28:342-373.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:342-373

Generative Empathy in the Treatment Situation

Roy Schafer, Ph.D.


Generative empathy is a sublimated creative act in personal relationships which combines the gratifications of intimate union with the recognition and enhancement of separateness and personal development of both persons involved. Such identification as is involved differs from the identifications which permanently modify the ego, for optimally it remains segregated

within the ego, suspendible, and available for contemplation and reality testing. In the end it enhances rather than replaces and impoverishes object relations. The further study of empathy promises to enrich understanding not only of the therapeutic process but of the development of the ego, of communication and reality testing in personal relationships, and of the general theory of adaptation (22).

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