Deconstructing Countertransference

by Lawrence J. Brown, PhD


Abend’s (1989) paper, “Countertransference and Psychoanalytic Technique,” is a status report on the concept of countertransference in all its various usages at that time which argues for a “big tent” approach to countertransference that includes a wide variety of subjective experiences the analyst encounters. The author argues that while Abend’s approach has helped to “normalize” the analyst’s emotional reactions to the analysand, this approach gives short shrift to the important variations in the analyst’s subjective experience of the analysand. The author explores the different kinds of subjective experiences evoked in the clinician that have been typically grouped under the big tent approach to countertransference. A clinical vignette is offered to illustrate these points.

Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(3):533-555, Oct 2018.

Link to Online Publication [fulltext can be requested from]

About the Author

Lawrence J. Brown, PhD, trained in adult and child psychoanalysis and is a faculty member and supervising child analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is also a supervising and personal analyst at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. Brown has lectured internationally and published papers on a variety of topics, including the Oedipal situation, Bion, intersubjectivity, field theory and autistic phenomena. The interview about his new book Transformational Processes in Clinical Psychoanalysis: Dreaming, Emotions and the Present Moment (Routledge, 2019) was recently released by the New Books in Psychoanalysis webcast series. Follow this link to listen.

Previous Posts:

Howard M. Katz, MD (2018). Music, Bonding, and Personal Growth: Merle Haggard’s Musical Journey toward Wholeness. Discussion of “A Place to Fall Apart, A Reading of Merle Haggard’s Music” by Richard P. Wheeler. American Imago, 75(3): 441-453.

Sarah Ackerman, PhD (2018). (How) Can We Write about Our Patients? Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 66(1), 59–81.

The Boston Change Process Study Group (2018). Moving Through and Being Moved By: Embodiment in Development and in the Therapeutic Relationship. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54 (2): 299-321.

Fred Busch, PhD (2018). Searching for the Analyst’s Reveries. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 99(3): 569-589.

Murray M. Schwartz, PhD (2018). Psychoanalysis in My Life: An Intellectual Memoir. American Imago, 75(2), pp. 125-152.

Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD (2018). Book Review of “Psychoanalytic Technique: Contributions from Ego Psychology” (Técnica Psicoanalítica: Aportaciones de la Psicología del Yo) By Cecilio Paniagua. Madrid: Editorial Tébar Flores, 2014. 426 pp. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(2): 369-379.

Michael Robbins, MD (2018). The Primary Process: Freud’s Profound Yet Neglected Contribution to the Psychology of Consciousness. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 38(3):186-197.

Mark Schechter, MD; Benjamin Herbstman, MD; Elsa Ronningstam, PhD; Mark Goldblatt, MD. (2018). Emerging Adults, Identity Development, and Suicidality: Implications for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:20-39, 2018.

Anton O. Kris, MD (2018). “Love’s Not Time’s Fool”: Some Continuities, Discontinuities, and Alterations in Psychoanalysis During My Lifetime. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:123-129, 2018.

Click here to see a full archive of featured papers. All articles can be requested from the library.