The Psychotherapist's Own Psychotherapy: Patient and Clinician Perspectives

By Jesse D. Geller; John C. Norcross et al. | Go to book overview
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Emanuel Berman

Of all the psychoanalyses conducted around the world, a considerable part are analyses of mental health professionals, themselves psychotherapists. Our literature has some difficulty in fully acknowledging and studying the impact of this phenomenon (Berman, 1995). Exploration has been limited so far, probably as a result of the view that sharing a profession is a superficial factor, marginal in its impact. This is an aspect of a theoretical tradition, in which “external” reality was viewed as a shallow layer mobilized for rationalization, allowing a defensive avoidance of deeper experiences, deflecting the analytic focus away from psychic reality. The “two realities,” outer and inner, were seen as competing for our attention, and one needed to be pushed aside to allow the other space. A vivid example of this view is offered by Hurwitz (1986). When he told his first analyst that the analyst's style may influence his reactions to him, the analyst insisted: “You'd respond the same way no matter who was in this chair.” Only his later experience with a second analyst made Hurwitz realize this was not so.

The actual importance of seemingly “external” factors has been gradually gaining recognition in the literature on training analyses. Psychoanalytic thinking in general has attempted to go beyond the dichotomy. Greenson's (1971) introduction of the concept “the real relationship” was a thoughtful attempt to correct the one-sided emphasis on transferential distortion. Yet, while acknowledging that “[a]ll object relationships consist of different admixtures and blendings of real and transference components(p. 89), Greenson hastens to add that these ingredients “can and should be separated from one another.” In his examples he appears confident as


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The Psychotherapist's Own Psychotherapy: Patient and Clinician Perspectives
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