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Goldberg, S.H. (1987). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXI, 1985: Secret Bearer or Secret Barer? Countertransference and the Gossiping Therapist. Elaine G. Caruth. Pp. 548-562.. Psychoanal Q., 56:730-731.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXI, 1985: Secret Bearer or Secret Barer? Countertransference and the Gossiping Therapist. Elaine G. Caruth. Pp. 548-562.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:730-731

Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXI, 1985: Secret Bearer or Secret Barer? Countertransference and the Gossiping Therapist. Elaine G. Caruth. Pp. 548-562.

Steven H. Goldberg

The frequent phenomenon of informal communication to a third party of information, disclosed by a patient in treatment is explored, with emphasis on the dynamic and countertransference aspects involved. Gossiping is seen as expressive of libidinal and aggressive conflicts and of disturbances in both object relations and narcissism. The gossiper is seeking intimacy with the recipient of his gossip, and

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distance from the patient who is the subject of it. Certain transference situations, particularly those deriving from more archaic needs and fears, are most likely to place an unbearable burden on the therapist, who seeks relief by diluting the dyadic situation to a triadic one including the person gossiped to. The therapist is thus able to break away from the intensity of the connection, while at the same time betraying his preoccupation with the patient. Gossiping may also represent an attempt on the part of the therapist to bolster self-esteem, and is likely to occur when the circumstances of the therapy place the therapist's self-esteem under attack. Patients gossip about their therapists, which also may have important meanings and functions, such as the re-enactment of infantile curiosity about secrets of the parental bedroom. The therapist's experience involves both intimacy and loneliness, and gossiping may be used by the therapist to deal with both. When patient, transference, and countertransference are better understood, the need for gossiping is reduced.

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Article Citation

Goldberg, S.H. (1987). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXI, 1985. Psychoanal. Q., 56:730-731

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