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Abend, S.M. (1989). Countertransference and Psychoanalytic Technique. Psychoanal Q., 58:374-395.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:374-395

Countertransference and Psychoanalytic Technique

Sander M. Abend, M.D.


This paper examines the evolution of the concept of countertransference, with particular emphasis on its relationship to psychoanalytic technique. Freud's original idea that countertransference means unconscious interference with an analyst's ability to understand patients has been broadened during the past forty years: current usage often includes all of the emotional reactions of the analyst at work. Some factors that have contributed to this shift are the introduction of the structural hypothesis, the impact of Kleinian and interpersonal schools on the theory of technique, the effect of analysts' experience in working with more severely ill patients, and the diffuse consequences of certain recent cultural and intellectual trends. The benefits as well as some potential disadvantages in this shift toward a more inclusive conceptualization are discussed.

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