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Volume 8, Pages 371-383
Review Article

Clinical Holistic Medicine: Avoiding the Freudian Trap of Sexual Transference and Countertransference in Psychodynamic Therapy

Søren Ventegodt,1,2,3,4,5 Isack Kandel,6,7 and Joav Merrick7,8,9

1Quality of Life Research Center, Classensgade 11C, 1 sal, DK-2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark
2Research Clinic for Holistic Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark
3Nordic School of Holistic Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark
4Scandinavian Foundation for Holistic Medicine, Sandvika, Norway
5Interuniversity College, Graz, Austria
6Faculty of Social Sciences, department of Behavioral Sciences, Ariel University Center of Samaria, Ariel, Israel
7National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Jerusalem, Israel
8Office of the Medical Director, Division for Mental Retardation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel
9Kentucky Children's Hospital, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA

Received 15 September 2007; Revised 25 March 2008; Accepted 1 April 2008

Academic Editor: Mohammed Morad

Copyright © 2008 Søren Ventegodt et al.


Sexual transference and countertransference can make therapy slow and inefficient when libidinous gratification becomes more important for both the patient and the therapist than real therapeutic progress. Sexual transference is normal when working with a patient's repressed sexuality, but the therapeutic rule of not touching often hinders the integration of sexual traumas, as this needs physical holding. So the patient is often left with sexual, Oedipal energies projected onto the therapist as an “idealized father” figure. The strong and lasting sexual desire for the therapist without any healing taking place can prolong therapy for many years, as it often does in psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. We call this problem “Freud's Trap”. Freud used intimate bodywork, such as massage, in the beginning of his career, but stopped, presumably for moral and political reasons. In the tradition of psychoanalysis, touch is therefore not allowed. Recent research in clinical holistic medicine (CHM), salutogenesis, and sexual healing has shown that touch and bodywork (an integral part of medicine since Hippocrates) are as important for healing as conversational therapy. CHM allows the patient to regress spontaneously to early sexual and emotional traumas, and to heal the deep wounds on body, soul, and sexual character from arrested psychosexual development. CHM treats sexuality in therapy more as the patient’s internal affair (i.e., energy work) and less as a thing going on between the patient and the therapist (i.e., transference). This accelerates healing, and reduces sexual transference and the need for mourning at the end of therapy.