What Is Anaclitic Countertransference?

Another type of transference, and this also comes from Dr. Spotnitz, is called anaclitic countertransference. Countertransference are the feelings that the therapist has for the patient. I know we’ve talked about it in the past, but there are two types of countertransference: subjective and objective. Subjective are things from my past as a therapist that may affect how I relate to the patient. If we had 10 psychoanalysts in a room all with one patient and they all have the same feeling, that’s objective countertransference, a feeling clearly being generated by the patient.

The anaclitic countertransference is something different and it develops over time. The thought is that a patient is missing something in their developmental years in their relationship with their parents. They’re not aware of it. They don’t talk about it. It’s not presented in their history, but that as time goes on, the analyst starts to get a feeling that something was missing and starts to give that feeling to the patient, which becomes maturational. Dr. Spotnitz said it doesn’t happen for many years, that it takes time before becoming evident in the treatment. I’ve seen it happen where something was missing, not conveyed in any way, shape, or form by the patient, and the analyst starts to have those feelings and gives those feelings to the patient. It’s very helpful. ~ Rafael Sharón, NCPsyA, SCPsyA, Psychoanalyst in Princeton NJ