Countertransference

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countertransference (contre-transfert) Freud coined the term

   'countertransference'    to designate      the analyst's      'unconscious feelings'
  towards the patient. Although Freud only used the term very rarely, it became
  much more widely used in psychoanalytic theory after his death. In particular,

analysts soon divided over the role allotted to countertransference in discus-

  sions of technique. On the       one hand, many analysts argued that counter-
  transference    manifestations    were   the   result    of incompletely analysed
  elements in the analyst, and that such manifestations should therefore be
  reduced to a minimum by a more complete training analysis. On the other

hand, some analysts from the Kleinian school, beginning with Paula Heimann,

argued that the analyst should be guided in his interpretations by his own

  countertransference reactions, taking his own feelings as an indicator of the

patient's state of mind (Heimann, 1950). Whereas the former group regarded

  countertransference as an obstacle to analysis, the latter group regarded it as a
   useful tool.
      In the 1950s, Lacan presents countertransference as a RESISTANCE, an obstacle
  which hinders the progress of psychoanalytic treatment. Like all resistances to
  treatment, countertransference is ultimately a resistance of the analyst. Thus
  Lacan defines countertransference     as 'the   sum of the prejudices, passions,

perplexities, and even the insufficient information of the analyst at a certain

  moment of the dialectical process' of the treatment (Ec, 225).
      Lacan refers to two of Freud's case studies to illustrate what he means. In
  1951, he refers to the Dora case (Freud, 1905e), and argues that Freud's

countertransference was rooted in his belief that heterosexuality is natural

  rather than normative, and in his identification with Herr K. Lacan argues
  that it was these two factors which caused Freud to handle the treatment badly
  and provoke the 'negative transference' which led to Dora breaking off the
  treatment (Lacan, 1951a).
      In 1957 Lacan presents a similar analysis of Freud's treatment of the young

homosexual woman (Freud, 1920a). He argues that when Freud interpreted the

  woman's dream as expressing a wish to deceive him, he was focusing on the

imaginary dimension of the woman's transference rather than on the symbolic

  dimension (S4, 135). That is, Freud interpreted the dream             as something
  directed at him personally, rather than      as something directed at the Other.




   Lacan argues that Freud did this because he found the woman attractive and
   because he identified with the woman's father (S4, 106-9). Once again,
   Freud's countertransference brought the treatment to a premature end, though
   this time it was Freud who decided to terminate it.
      The preceding examples might seem to suggest that Lacan aligns himself
   with those analysts who argue that the training analysis should give the analyst
   the capacity to transcend all affective reactions to the patient. However, Lacan

absolutely rejects this point of view, which he dismisses as a 'stoical ideal'

   (S8, 219). The training analysis does not put the analyst beyond passion, and to
   believe that it does would be to believe that all the passions stem from the
   unconscious, an idea which Lacan rejects. If anything, the better analysed the

analyst is, the more likely he is to be frankly in love with, or be quite repulsed

by, the analysand (S8, 220). If, then, the analyst does not act on the basis of

   these feelings, it is not because his training analysis has drained away his

passions, but because it has given him a desire which is even stronger than

   those passions,   a desire which Lacan calls the DESIRE OF THE ANALYST (S8,
   220-1).
      Hence Lacan does not entirely reject Paula Heimann's position. He accepts
   that analysts have feelings towards their patients, and that sometimes the

analyst can direct the treatment better by reflecting on these feelings. For

example, if Freud had reflected a bit more on his feelings towards the young

   homosexual woman, he might have avoided interpreting her dream             as   a
   message addressed directly to him (S4, 108).


      No one has ever said that the analyst should never have feelings towards his
      patient. But he must know not only not to give into them, to keep them in
      their place, but also how to make adequate use of them in his technique.
                                                                                                                 (Sl, 32)


   If countertransference is condemned by Lacan, then, it is because he defines it
   not in terms of affects felt by the analyst, but as the analyst's failure to use
   those affects appropriately.
      In the 1960s Lacan becomes very critical of the term countertransference.
   He argues that it connotes a symmetrical relationship between the analyst and
   the analysand, whereas the transference is anything but a symmetrical relation-

ship. When speaking of the analyst's position it is both misleading and

   unnecessary to use the term countertransference; it is sufficient to speak of
   the different ways in which the analyst and analysand are implicated in the
   transference (S8, 233). 'The transference is a phenomenon in which subject
   and psycho-analyst are both included. To divide it in terms of transference and
   counter-transference . . . is never more than a way of avoiding the essence of
   the matter' (Sll, 231).