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Hoffman, I.Z. (2009). Therapeutic Passion in the Countertransference. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(5):617-637.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(5):617-637

Therapeutic Passion in the Countertransference

Irwin Z. Hoffman, Ph.D.

The place of the analyst's “influence” in psychoanalytic theory and practice is explored. There is a current in the literature in which it is welcomed as an aspect of “corrective experience,” although usually legitimized by being forced into the narrow channel of interpretation and understanding. A taboo on influence persists despite theoretical shifts that would seem to clear the way for greater acceptance of its importance. Among other factors, the aversion to influence is traced to its association with hypnotic “suggestion,” which implies little room for the patient's autonomy. Opening the door to embracing the possibility of influence goes hand in hand with, on one hand, the analyst respecting the patient as a competent free agent and, on the other hand, the analyst combining willingness to take a stand with willingness to reflect critically on his or her participation. In that context, and with those caveats, the analyst takes on the responsibility to combat destructive introjects and to become an inspiring, affirmative presence in the patient's life. The analyst's passion for the patient's well-being and for changes that entail the realization of dormant potentials now has its place. Different kinds of expression of therapeutic passion in the countertransference are described and illustrated.

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