Paula Lorig Ammerman, PhD

Class of 1996


Functions of countertransference in psychotherapy of borderline disorder: The clinician's experience (1996)

Paula Lorig Ammerman

Treating the borderline patient is an arduous and formidable endeavor.  It is intense and unsettling.  It challenges the therapist to submit to extraordinarily uncomfortable experiences which one would otherwise wish to avoid.  These experiences often include dangerous, impulsive , and self-destructive acts on the part of the patient.  Such behaviors constellate strong, visceral countertransference reactions in the therapist.  Therapists often feel overwhelmed and exhausted by these patients’ “suicidal threats, unreasonable demands, and a wide variety of other coercive behaviors to draw the therapist out of a position of psychotherapeutic neutrality and into the roles of caretaker, parent, persecutor, and adversary.  These issues must be considered in the treatment of borderline personalities.