Transference and Countertransference

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Heinrich Racker (1910-1961) became a member of the Asociación Psicoanalítica Argentina (Psychoanalytic Association of Argentina) in 1947. The appearance of his book Transference and Countertransference, whose central theme is counter-transference, had considerable impact in Latin America, and also aroused interest and confirmation in other psychoanalytic centers of North America and Europe.

Racker argued that transference and counter-transference are the two components of a unity that reciprocally give life to one another and create the interpersonal relationship in the analytic setting. The counter-transference encompasses the analyst's total response to the transferences of the patient and to his or her own transferential reactions to the person of the analysand. It is a decisive factor for the understanding and interpretation of the patient's psychological processes.

In the establishment of the counter-transference, Racker distinguished between a "concordant identification," which results from the analyst's identification with the analysand's ego, superego, and id, and a "complementary identification," produced by the analyst's identification with the analysand's internal objects.

These identifications configure transference-counter-transference neurosis. There thus exists a bipathy. Within this bipathy, while negative or sexual transference disrupts the patient's collaboration in the analysis, the analyst's negative or sexual countertransference interferes with his or her comprehension of the analysand, and, consequently, his or her interpretive abilities. To successfully dissolve these resistances, the therapist must undertake constant self-analysis throughout the treatment of his or her patients. Paradoxically, counter-transference neurosis can play a positive role when the therapist uses it to understand the patient's neurosis. Racker showed how the analyst's affective positiondependent upon his or her archaic objectsappears as a response to that of the analysand, signaling psychological facts about it. From another viewpoint, the analyst also unconsciously communicates his or her affective contents to the patient. Racker particularly emphasized positive counter-transference, love, as a basic force for understanding that makes possible the development of a positive analytic process. He assigned three meanings to counter-transference, viewing it manifestations as a "danger," an "instrument" for understanding and interpretation, and a "reliving that is simultaneously a new slice of life."

Fidias Cesio

See also: Argentina; Empathy; Racker, Heinrich.

Source Citation

Racker, Heinrich. (1960). Estudios sobre técnica psicoanalítica. Buenos Aires: Editorial Paidós; (1968). Transferenceand countertransference. New York: International Universities Press.


Cesio, Fidias. (1985). Heinrich Racker. Revista de psicoanálisis de la Asociacíon psicoanalítica argentina, 42,2.