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Barron, J.W. Hoffer, A. (1994). Historical Events Reinforcing Freud's Emphasis on "Holding Down the Countertransference". Psychoanal Q., 63:536-540.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:536-540

Historical Events Reinforcing Freud's Emphasis on "Holding Down the Countertransference"

James W. Barron, Ph.D. and Axel Hoffer, M.D.

Freud's conceptualization of transference evolved from that of a feared enemy to a welcome ally. He initially viewed transference solely as an obstacle to the treatment, as an expression of the patient's resistance. Gradually, he came to see it as the patient's contemporary affective experience with the analyst, as an aid to the patient's uncovering and remembering previously repressed elements in his or her psychic life. By contrast, the analogous transformation of Freud's conceptualization of countertransference into a potential ally of the treatment did not occur. An examination of the historical context in which Freud first became aware of countertransference (with particular emphasis on its erotic components) may add to our understanding of his hesitance to explore its potential more fully.

Freud's first use of the term "countertransference" in the scientific literature occurred in his essay, "The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy" (1910), which he delivered as an address at the opening of the Second Psycho-Analytical Congress (Strachey, 1957). In the second part of the paper dealing with matters of technique, Freud stated:

Other innovations in technique relate to the physician himself. We have become aware of the 'counter-transference', which arises in him as a result of the patient's influence on his unconscious feelings, and we are almost inclined to insist that he shall recognize this counter-transference in himself and overcome it (pp. 144-145).

Privately, Freud had used the term "countertransference" for

1 We are grateful to André Haynal and Ernst Falzeder for calling to our attention this letter in which Freud first used the term "countertransference.

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