Psychotherapy, an Erotic Relationship: Transference and Countertransference Passions

Psychotherapy, an Erotic Relationship: Transference and Countertransference Passions

Psychotherapy, an Erotic Relationship: Transference and Countertransference Passions

Psychotherapy, an Erotic Relationship: Transference and Countertransference Passions


Psychotherapy: An Erotic Relationship challenges the traditional belief that transference and countertransference are merely forms of resistance which jeopardize the therapeutic process. David Mann shows how the erotic feelings and fantasies experienced by clients and therapists can be used to bring about a positive transformation.Combining extensive clinical material with theoretical insights and new research on infants, the author traces erotic development back to the parent-child relationship, drawing parallels between this relationship and the therapist/client dyad. Individual chapters explore the function of the erotic within the unconscious, pre-Oedipal and Oedipal material, homoeroticism in therapy, sexual intercourse as a metaphor for psychological change, the primal scene and the difficulties of working with perversions.


This book is about how the erotic affects the transference and countertransference. This is not an exposition on the nature of the erotic or love. It is, rather, about how the erotic has significance in the analytical relationship between patient and therapist. To summarize this whole book in a single sentence: I consider that the erotic pervades most if not all psychoanalytic encounters and is largely a positive and transformational influence.

My understanding of the erotic transference and counter-transference is drawn mostly from my clinical practice and teaching experience. I work primarily with the ideas of the British Object Relations tradition, drawing heavily on the ideas of Winnicott, Fairbairn and Klein. It is, though, a critical appreciation of this tradition. Work with patients made it necessary for me to think afresh about much of the material they presented. This is also true of my teaching. For the last five years, I have been running workshops on 'Working with the erotic transference and countertransference' in the UK and Europe. The needs of the participants on these courses required that I think my ideas through; they also produced much interesting material of their own.

In addition to my clinical and teaching experience, I also draw on several other sources. Obviously the existing psychoanalytic literature on the erotic transference and countertransference needs to be considered. This is not an onerous task as so little has been written on the subject. It is an aspect of my own personality that I am interested in those areas that do not stimulate general curiosity. I like to ask 'Why not?' especially if this relates to a subject like the erotic. As the reader will find, I agree with some authors and not others. I see my own offering as one of standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before me rather than one of discarding the past.

This book also makes use of two other sources of information. The first is the recent upsurge in infant observation data that is giving psychoanalysis a much clearer understanding of the infant's mind. The second is that of mythology. This is a source of interest partly because myths are well-told tales, but mostly because I consider they represent the deep psychological preoccupations of humanity throughout recorded history. In that sense, they . . .

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