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Solomon, B.C. (1997). Chapter 13 Discussion of Shelby's “The Self and Orientation: The Case of Mr. G”. Progress in Self Psychology, 13:203-212.

(1997). Progress in Self Psychology, 13:203-212

Chapter 13 Discussion of Shelby's “The Self and Orientation: The Case of Mr. G”

Brenda Clorfene Solomon, M.D.

Dennis Shelby continues his pioneering work on homosexuality by asking: How does the analyst's sexual orientation influence the potential selfobject transferences when the patient is homosexual? What unique countertransference reactions occur in the analyst when the patient is a male homosexual? Does the therapist's sexual orientation limit his or her potential to participate in the unfolding of the developmentally necessary and previously missing selfobject experience that provides pathways to the most vitalized, healthy sense of self?

There has been an absence in the self psychology literature of the mirroring selfobject transferences as they emerge in homosexual patients. I agree with Shelby's conclusion, Sexuality and orientation are integral aspects of the self. Ultimately, it is the transference and responsiveness to the patient rather than the orientation of the therapist that is central in the renewed development of the self.

Important questions for considering the specific nuances of analyst/ patient orientation include: What if this patient, Mr. G, had been treated by a heterosexual woman? a heterosexual man? a lesbian? Would there have been different selfobject configurations? How might they coconstruct the psychoanalytic dialogue?

In order to approach this, I will first offer my personal response to being asked to discuss Shelby's provocative questions. Next, I will briefly review the case and consider the patient as suffering from a narcissistic behavior disorder. The concept of compensatory structures will be mentioned. Finally, I will make some preliminary remarks on analyst sexual orientation and countertransference.

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