One way of understanding countertransference reactions in order to develop empathic responses to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Michelle C. Loris (1995)

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often evoke severe and negative countertransference reactions in their therapists. Such countertransference reactions make it difficult for the therapist to respond empathically to the patient. Often, the therapist's negative countertransference reactions may disrupt the therapeutic relationship and impede treatment. Through a theoretical review and two case analyses, this dissertation examines how therapists may use the object relations paradigm of Victim, Abuser, Non Protecting Bystander/Uninvolved Mother and Omnipotent Rescuer (Davies & Frawley, 1992, 1994; Gabbard, 1992; Miller, 1994) to understand their countertransference reactions to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in order to develop empathic responses to these patients. By looking at the treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, this dissertation joins the discipline of psychoanalysis to the field of trauma studies in an attempt to illustrate a psychoanalytic technique that will help clinicians understand the internal world of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as address and treat the array of symptoms and long term intrapsychic and interpersonal effects which have been formed in these patients because of their childhood experience of sexual abuse.