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Counter

Transference
in
Social
Research
:
beyond
Georges
Devereux
by Alain Giami*

Biography
George Devereux was born in 1908 in Lugos in the Hungarian
Transylvania [1] . At the age of 18 he immigrated to Paris to study
physics with Marie Curie and Jean Perrin and to learn the Malesian
language. His studies led him to the works of Marcel Mauss and
Lucien Lvy-Bruhl. He was awarded a Rockfeller grant in 1932 to
carry out fieldwork among the Hopi in California and the Sedang Moi
in Vietnam. He obtained his PhD in anthropology at the University of
California (Berkeley) in 1935 and went on to train as a
psychoanalyst. He worked at the Meninger Clinic in Topeka (Kansas)
and in 1959 he established himself in New York as a psychoanalyst.
In 1962 he was invited by Roger Bastide and Claude Lvi-Strauss to
teach ethno-psychiatry at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences
Sociales in Paris. His work is still influential in France mostly in clinical
psychology and in the treatment of mental disorders among people
from non-western cultures. More recently, Devereuxs work has
received renewed attention in the US through Gilbert Herdt, an
anthropologist, and Robert Stoller, a psychoanalyst, who worked
together on the subjective dimensions of erotic culture in New
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Guinea, Sambia.

Transference
countertransference

and

Counter-transference cannot be understood without reference to the


notion of transference. Transference is one of Freuds most important
contributions and describes a process that takes place in therapeutic
interaction and, more generally, in all interpersonal interactions. In
psychoanalytic theory "transference" refers to the process by which
the unconscious desires of the analysand become actual and are
projected ("transferred") onto the person of the analyst. The process
involves "a repetition of infantile prototypes that are lived out with a
deep feeling of reality" (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967). Joan Schimek
summarised the criteria used by Freud to identify transference as
"inappropriateness, resistance and repetition of the past" (Schimek,
1983, p. 436). "Inappropriateness" relates to the analytic "here and
now" of therapeutic social interaction. The "inappropriateness" of the
patients reactions and behaviour, from the analysts point of view,
becomes the source of interpretative work. It is precisely this
"inappropriateness" as a resurgence of the past projected onto the
analyst that provides the material to be interpreted. This approach
stands in direct opposition to those that have a more positivist
framing within the social sciences and thus aim to work with a
subjects "appropriate" reactions, i.e. their compliance when
answering questions posed in questionnaires or interview schedules.
Within a positivist framing, non-responses and "don't know" response
in questionnaires are rarely considered worthy of interpretation.
However, as Giami (1996) has pointed out, "dont knows" and nonresponses should be considered as relevant research material since
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they represent a statement of the subject in response to the


question of the researcher and have the potential to provide crucial
insights.
Transference affects both participants in the therapeutic setting.
This means that the analyst is not free from the unconscious and
inappropriate reactions that he/she observes in the patient. The
concept of counter-transference refers to the unconscious
processes specifically affecting the analyst. It is defined as "the
overall reactions of the analyst to the patient as a person and
towards his/her transference" (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967).
According to this definition transference and counter-transference
refer to the reactions of the two people in the "here and now" of the
therapeutic setting as well as to the repetition of the past of both
participants actualised in the setting. Strictly speaking, countertransference refers specifically to the analysts reactions to the
patients transference. In the analytic setting, counter-transference
is thus considered a secondary process that derives both from the
analysts own neurotic conflicts and his/her reactions to the
analysand. The analysts counter-transference is normally viewed as
"inappropriate" because it may provoke negative reactions and
resistances in his/her emotional reactions to the patient. According
to Freud, the analyst should try to overcome his/her countertransference. However, since the patients and the analysts
reactions are of the same nature, there is a question about whether
or not we need to specific concepts to describe the analysts
reactions.
Some writers, such as Otto Kernberg, find it difficult to distinguish
the patients and the analysts unconscious reactions and suggest
therefore that the notion of transference should include the
reactions of both. "A totalistic concept of transference does justice
to the conception of the analytic situation as an interaction process
in which past and present of both participants, as well as their
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in which past and present of both participants, as well as their


mutual reactions to past and present, fuse into a unique emotional
position involving both of them." (Kernberg, 1965, p. 41).
This conception implies that transference also occurs in the analyst
towards his/her patient. However, if we follow this formulation, it
becomes difficult to distinguish reactions that arise from the analysts
biography from those that arise in reaction to the patient and
therefore to assess how each might be affecting the analyst's work.
Counter-transference can be differentiated from transference in so
far as it appears as a perturbation of the normal work of the analyst
involving his/her own neurotic dimensions. According to this definition
counter-transference is something "negative" that needs be
eliminated. But this raises the issue of the definition of the "normal"
work of the analyst excluding the neurotic reactions of the analyst
himself.
In a more positive vein, counter-transference can be seen to
represent the major source of information for the analyst. That is,
the way he/she reacts to the patients reactions is his/her primary
source of information. Thus, the analyst has to interpret his/her own
reactions in relation to the patients transference. This implies that
there is no objective knowledge, but only subjective knowledge
derived from the analysts own reactions. Accordingly, countertransference can be used to gain.. greater understanding of the
patient through the analysis of the analysts personal reactions to
him/her.
Counter-transference can be broadly defined as the analysts global
orientation including his/her subjective choice of profession and the
remaining, non-analysed, parts of his/her unconscious. This approach
maintains that all the analysts reactions, whether they occur as a
response to the patient or not, are part of counter-transference.
Therefore, counter-transference is not considered solely as a
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secondary reaction of the analyst to the patient, but precedes it and


indeed contributes to the structuration of the interaction. Ronald
Searles (1979) suggests that psychoanalysts are individuals who
have not managed to renounce the possibility of curing their own
parents. Didier Anzieu (1959) proposes that Freuds invention of the
analytical apparatus, excluding body and eye contact was a reaction
to phobic attitudes towards his patients. Otto Kernberg (1965)
proposed that with psychotic patients, counter-transference
becomes an invaluable tool giving the analyst information about a
patients degree of regression.
However, from a practical perspective, the question remains about
what the analyst should do with his/her own reactions. Different
definitions of counter-transference imply different strategies. These
include, for example:
- getting the analyst to reduce counter-transference because
it is considered an obstacle to therapeutic work;
- accepting and using counter-transference while encouraging
the analyst to control it as much as possible;
- allowing counter-transference to inspire the analyst and
inform interpretations.
Counter-transference, as theory and as practice, emerged within the
field of psychoanalysis. Michael Balint was one of the first to extend
the model by pointing out that the clinicians subjectivity and
counter-transference are present in every caring relationship, and
that its influence extends beyond the professional identity of the
clinician. Balint captured this by stating that in most cases the
doctor is the first medication administered to the patient through the
expression of himself or herself in the clinical setting (Balint, 1957).
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In summary, counter-transference is a concept that recognises that


the analyst as well as the patient is affected by unconscious
processes in the construction of his/her personal and professional
identity and in interactions with patients. It acknowledges that the
analyst is not a neutral expert and that "working through"
unconscious attitudes ought to form a continuous part of the
analysts everyday practice that may lead to a greater understanding
of the therapeutic relationship.

Counter-transference in
behavioural research
Georges Devereux was the first scientist to attempt to generalise the
notion of counter-transference beyond the field of therapeutic
practice and introduce it into the practice of social and behavioural
sciences. Devereux had trained in both anthropology and
psychoanalysis and he developed a method for studying social
phenomena that drew on these two disciplines in a complementary
manner. He elaborated the theory of the counter-transference of the
researcher in his most important book - "From anxiety to method in
the behavioural sciences" published in 1967. Roger Bastide, a
French anthropologist, noted that the assessment of the implication
of the observer inside the observed subject had been well-known
since the work of Marx and Mannheim and the foundation of
sociology of knowledge (Bastide, 1970). However, the recognition of
the importance of the social and political interests of the scientist
relating to social class and nationality did not take into account the
subjective, unconscious dimensions at work in the construction of
knowledge. The social influences affecting the scientist can be
considered as a form of ideological functioning involving "false
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consciousness". Some social scientists, inspired by psychoanalysis


had already observed this influence on the researcher in the
collection and the treatment of data.
For example, Siegfried Kracauer, a literature historian and a media
scientist, once a member of the Francfurt School and of the Institute
of Social Research at Columbia University, had already noticed the
importance of taking into account what he called a "disciplined
subjectivity" (or a "discipline related subjectivity") in scientific work.
"Far from being an obstacle, subjectivity is in effect indispensable for
the analysis of material, which vanishes before our eyes when
subjected to a treatment confounding them with dead matter.
Quantitative analysis is not free of such nihilistic influence. Many
quantitative investigations in effect mark the spot where a misplaced
desire for objectivity has failed to reveal the inner dynamics of an
atomized content." (Kracauer, 1952, p. 642.). The important point is
that Kracauer did not confine the presence of subjectivity to
qualitative research, but also recognised its presence in quantitative
research when he remarked that quantitative treatments transform
"live" data into "dead matter". All fields of scientific practice,
considered as a human and social activity, involve the subjective
influence of the researcher and therefore need to take account of
counter-transference. The anxieties of the researcher are being
projected in quantitative as well as in qualitative methodology.
In the methodological chapter of The Authoritarian Personality,
Adorno and his colleagues noted the influence of the interviewers
social appearance on data collection. They tried to take this
influence into account and control it in their study of anti-Semitism
by using Jewish and Gentile interviewers. By doing so they attempted
to control the influence of the interviewers personality on data
collection (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, Nevitt Sanford,
1950).
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Devereux did not locate the origin of his own insights in the field of
social science. Indeed, he acknowledged Albert Einstein as his most
important source of inspiration when he quoted the phrase: "we can
only observe the phenomena that occur near or inside the
experimental apparatus and the observer himself is the most
important part of this apparatus". Devereux considered that he had
gone further than Freud by suggesting that counter-transference,
rather than transference, was the central datum in the behavioural
sciences. In other words, Devereux introduced a major change by
focussing on the role of the researcher and by proposing that the
influence of the researcher in the construction of knowledge is the
central phenomenon in the social and behavioural sciences.
According to Devereux , in behavioural sciences data comprise three
elements. These elements are: (1) the behaviour of the observed
subject; (2) the "perturbations" induced by the presence of the
observer and by the activities he performs in the context of
observation and, last but not least, (3) the behaviour of the observer
including his anxieties, his defence mechanisms, his research
strategies and the ways in which he chooses to attribute meaning.
Thus scientific knowledge is produced from these three sources.
However, in the introduction to his book, Devereux warns that
information concerning the behaviour of the observer is rarely
available or taken into account in scientific work.
A researchers counter-transference can be defined as the sum of
unconscious and emotional reactions, including anxiety, affecting
his/her relation with the observed subject and situation. These
reactions produce distortions in the process of knowledge
construction that remain hidden from the researcher. Notions of
"inappropriateness" and "resistance", as defined by Schimek, become
central in understanding the cognitive processes affecting the
researcher, because they highlight the researchers reactions to
aspects of reality emerging in fieldwork. Counter-transference points
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aspects of reality emerging in fieldwork. Counter-transference points


to the researchers difficulty in clearly distinguishing material that
comes from outside (the subject, the field) and from inside (his/her
own emotional reactions). The researcher has to struggle with these
emotional reactions and anxieties.

Methods: defense or sublimation ?


Devereux elaborated the opposition between the use of methodology
as a defence mechanism against anxiety that prevents the
researcher from gaining knowledge, and the sublimatory use of
methodology when tools appear appropriate to the scientific work
and help to gain knowledge. According to Devereux, methodological
tools are sublimatory when, at the same time, they help to reduce
the researchers anxieties and produce valid knowledge. Devereux
contrasts the given reality of the external world, which can
sometimes be unbearable for the researcher, and the subjectivity of
the researchers internal world that has the potential to reduce the
unbearable aspects of the external world. He suggests that the
relation between the internal and the external world is mediated by a
complex cultural matrix that imposes meanings on contents.
According to this view, culture, and especially the researchers local
culture can reinforce misunderstanding.
Devereuxs approach originates in the view that psychoanalysis can
provide an epistemology for the behavioural sciences. This approach
questions the nature of objectivity, of subjectivity and of the relation
between the "researched" as a subject and also the researcher as a
subject. In other words, the observer is also observed by the
research subject. Data are not only produced in an objective way
but they are co-constructed in the complex interaction between the
researcher and the subject.
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Therefore in the social sciences it is quite common to analyse bias.


These biases include those related to the subject of research, to the
chosen research tools and to the investigator. Classic methodological
work on questionnaire-based surveys often considers the interviewer
to be one of the major sources of measurement error and bias during
data collection, independent from the subject of the survey (Hyman,
1954; Turner and Martin, 1980). More recently, Johnson and
DeLamater, working in the field of sex research, have suggested that
the "major problem is the attitude of researchers and interviewers to
research into sexuality". Concerning methodology, they state that
"concern with the threat of the subject matter is a projection of the
interviewer's own discomfort". They suspect that as researchers they
have been "insensitive to the important source of sensitivity in
research on sexuality -ourselves and our interviewers- and have
overestimated the extent to which our respondents are sensitive to
these topics and to reporting them." (Johnson and DeLamater, 1976,
p. 181).
As an illustration of this, it is interesting to note that the British
survey on sexual attitudes and lifestyles did not include any
questions on the topic of masturbation, an omission that is quite rare
in surveys on sexual behaviour. The authors of this survey justified
the absence of such a question as follows: "It is regrettable that
questions about masturbation were excluded from the survey
because discussions addressing this practice led to disgust and
embarrassment among subjects questioned during the qualitative
pre-survey to establish the formulation of the questions." (Wellings
et al., 1994, p134). There was absolutely no mention of the
researchers or interviewers discomfort about "this practice" which
may well have been projected onto the respondents. The omission of
the question had a negative outcome in that we do not now know
the frequency of occurrence of masturbation in Britain. However, it
also serves as a valuable source of information about the discomfort
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that talking about this practice raises with women. One possible
interpretation of this reluctance to address questions about
masturbation is that the researchers on this project were all women
and it has been established that women tend to underreport the
practice of masturbation (Bjin, 1996).
Devereuxs insistence on taking account of researchers countertransference provides a new perspective in the consideration of bias.
Researcher bias is not only viewed as having negative effects but
further, that these biases become part of the construction of the
research object. Subjectivity should not only be viewed as an
obstacle in the research process but may also provide a "royal path"
to knowledge.
Recently, Herdt and Stoller proposed another perspective inspired by
Devereux. They defined a new form of ethnography called "clinical
ethnography": "Clinical ethnographies are reports that study the
subjectivity of the researcher as well as the people who inform
him/her." (Herdt and Stoller, 1990, p. 29). Major sources of
knowledge for the clinical ethnographer are gained through subjective
experiences of discomfort and shock occurring during fieldwork. Herdt
and Stoller operationalized the analysis of counter-transference
through discussions among themselves of their own subjective
reactions as well as scientific ideas that arose during fieldwork in
Sambia. The conversation between both of them became the basis
for the analysis of narratives gathered among the Sambia. The
confrontation between their differing points of view allowed them to
consider the limits and the benefits of subjectivity over and above
their rational, scientific work. This approach can therefore be
understood as an enhancement of rationality rather than as
regression away from rationality.
An appeal to psychoanalysis brings with it an openness about
subjectivity on the one hand but on the other hand it suggests a
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blind-spot. Freuds theory of the unconscious, which was one of


Devereuxs starting points, does not take into account the social and
ideological position of the individual as a component in the
construction of knowledge and "mis-knowledge". It is primarily
concerned with the psycho-sexual dimension of subjectivity in the
construction and reconstruction of knowledge and to a lesser extent
the researchers cultural positioning.
In his book "Homo Academicus", a study about the academic
institution and academic actors in France, the sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu (1984) gives an overview of the social dimension of
"misknowledge" grounded in the specific position occupied by the
researcher in the field. He poses these questions. How can a
prominent French sociologist occupying a central place in the French
academic system study the functioning of an institution to which he
belongs? And in what ways does his specific position in the field
influence his representation of the field? In other words, he places
himself at the same time, both as the subject and the object of his
own research. Bourdieu brings us back to Marx and Mannheims initial
insights by reminding us of the interests that the researcher brings to
the study through his/her involvement in a (local) milieu and as a
member of a social class. By integrating both dimensions of countertransference: the psycho-sexual and the social-ideological, we can
generalise and expand Devereuxs work.

The
analysis
transference

of

counter-

While it is important to recognise the existence of subjective, active


and unconscious influences on the researcher and in his/her research
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work, it is even more important to ask the pragmatic question; how


these influences be detected and analysed? In other words, how are
we to perceive these effects in the research process? In a study of
the representations of sexuality of the mentally retarded (Giami,
1987; Giami, Humbert, Laval, 2001) developed a specific research
tool to confront the different points of view that arose in data
analysis. Herdt and Stoller developed a similar approach by
commenting upon the material they had collected either separately or
together. The conversations that ensued can be understood as
equivalent to the kind of supervision that is practiced among
clinicians. That is, the clinician discusses the difficulties that he/she
comes across in work with a patient with others who share a
psychological insight yet who do not share the clinicians position
with respect to the patient. The confrontation between these
different points of view may help to uncover blind spots in the
clinician or researchers perspective. Nevertheless, the analysis of
the effects of counter-transference in research cannot go far
beyond some insight into the "inappropriateness" of the researchers
reactions. After that, the researcher remains free to decide what to
do with the information.

The
components
transference

of

counter-

The researcher is, in one way or another, the subject and object of
the knowledge that he/she elaborates. The specific position he/she
occupies in the field allows at the same time for a specific kind of
focus and for specific blind spots. From any one position, there are
aspects of the world that one can perceive and aspects that one
cannot. Absolute objectivity is, by definition, impossible and one has
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to find the appropriate focus, the "good distance", according to ones


research objectives. The position of the researcher in the field
defines (1) what he/she can know, (2) what he/she might be able to
know, (3) what he/she cannot know and last but not least (4) what
he/she actively refuses to know for some social or psychological
reason [2] . In some cases, researchers know what they do not
know and what they cannot know; in others they do not even take
account of what they cannot know.
In considering the researchers position the first component to take
into account is gender. Gender identity and sexual orientation allow
one to know some aspects of reality and prevents one from knowing
and understanding others.
The second component is the researchers age and position in the
cycle of generations.
The third component is the researchers position and social attitudes
towards the topic being researched.
The fourth component is the way the researchers is positioned and
understood within society as a whole.
In some instances the researcher is recognised as an individual but in
most cases he/she is referred to as a collective subject. The notion
of the researcher as a collective subject can be tracked according to
the way science has developed as technology, a processes
documented by historians of science such as Ludwig Fleck and
Thomas Kuhn. This kind of historical analysis has brought to light the
role of folk theories in the production of scientific theories on the one
hand and to the way scientific paradigms (or general conceptions)
are shared and assessed by communities on the other. What is
recognised as knowledgeable and true in one social-scientific
community, is not necessarily recognised as such in another.
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These four components play different key-roles depending on the


topic that is being researched. The methodological intention that
underpins counter-transference theory is to go beyond the limitations
that the four components impose on the production of knowledge so
as to allow new ways of making sense to emerge. Thus it can be
seen that when researchers draw on research tools without this
awareness, unconscious fears surrounding the research topic and/or
ideological beliefs act to limit the production of knowledge and
methodology comes to act as a defence mechanism. Devereux refers
to this as the sublimatory use of methodology.
In research practice all or some of these components come to bear in
complex ways. Political and ideological constraints may reinforce and
justify unconscious, personal and counter-transferential attitudes of
the researcher.
I will illustrate these ideas with two examples. In the first one, I will
demonstrate how we attempted to reduce the negative bias of the
researcher by constituting a team of researchers to represent
different positions with respect to the research topic. Each member
of the team had something in common with one of the groups under
study and less in common with others. Discussions among team
members helped to build a global perspective of the field. In the
second example, I will illustrate how the counter-transference and
personal involvement of the interviewers collecting data in a survey
on sexuality can itself be treated as an object for study in its own
right.

Representations of the sexuality


of the mentally retarded by
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parents and special educators


(Giami, Humbert, Laval, 2001)
This was a comparative study of the representations of two groups
of individuals who had different positions and different kinds of
involvement with mentally retarded individuals : special educators
and parents. The aim of the study was to describe the
representations of both groups and to understand the differences
between them on the basis of their respective relationships with the
mentally retarded individuals. The most important underlying principle
of the study was that one cannot evaluate or compare
representations of sexuality with the so-called actual sexual life of
mentally retarded individuals. A logical extension of this principle
meant that the primarly research objective was to compare parents
representations and special educators representations with different
aspects of the global system of representation elaborated by the
research team.
From a methodological and political point of view, being a researcher
in psychology placed me in a closer position with respect to the
special educators than to the parents, particularly since I am not the
parent of a mentally retarded child. At some point in the research, I
realised that my social proximity with the group of special educators
might be provoking a blind spot in my analysis of both groups
representations (the educators and the parents). Since I had no
experience of being a parent of a mentally retarded child, the danger
was that I would consider the representations of the educators more
"real" or "true" than the representations of the parents. This in turn
would reinforce the stigma attached to parents of mentally retarded
children, and maintained by special educators among others. In order
to make sure that the discourses collected from each groups retained
an equal status as complementary parts of the same global, yet
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contradictory, system I decided to include one person who worked


as a special educator and one parent with a mentally retarded child
on the research team. In consequence, I was able to ensure that
that during analysis the two sets of narratives were treated with the
same level of understanding.
In this study, the most important dimension of counter-transference
was identified as the researchers proximity and identification with
one target group rather than the other. The knowledge of the
possible risk posed by such an identification, in which the educators
appeared to be more similar to me and the parents more strange,
was used to construct research apparatus that included individuals
from each these groups.

Interviewing on sexual behaviour


and AIDS (Giami, Olomucki, de
Poplavsky, 1997, 1998)
In this project we tried to describe and understand the attitudes and
representations of the interviewers that were selected to administer
a telephone questionnaire in the French National survey on sexual
behaviour (Spira, Bajos, ACSF group, 1994).
The use of interviewers is not the only source of bias in the
production of data. The establishment of an interviewer-respondent
relationship is also one of the main requirements in ensuring the
successful collection of data. In this study we confirmed the
importance of the quality of the interviewer-respondent interaction
through the daily monitoring of the interviewers.
We tried to assess the psychological processes and in particular
incidents of counter-transference that were affecting the
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interviewers. We took from Devereuxs work the assumption that: "An


interview about sex even in the case of a scientific interview is in
itself a kind of sexual interaction, which can be lived out on a
symbolic, verbal and emotional level as shown in the analysis of the
sexual transference in psychoanalysis" (Devereux, 1967, p. 29). This
assumption has the merit of emphasizing the importance of fantasies
developed during this type of communication.
Completing a questionnaire verbally involves a relationship between
two people. The situation is, however, asymmetric. For the
interviewer, the relationship forms part of a professional activity,
whereas it is the private life of the respondent that is being
addressed. During telephone interviews, the interviewer occupies
his/her place of work where he/she enjoys a professional status.
Respondents, however, are questioned in the privacy of their homes
and asked questions about the most intimate aspects of their private
lives. The questionnaire itself served as a mediator in the
interviewer-respondents communication. The interview was designed
to proceed according to a well defined scenario that progressed by
alternating questions that were considered banal with those
considered sensitive.
However, the professional nature of the involvement of the
interviewer does not exclude conscious and unconscious
manifestations of his/her subjectivity even when interviewers use
tightly structured. We therefore considered it necessary to study the
interviewers' representations of sexuality and AIDS in order to
identify the difficulties we anticipated they would confront and to
investigate their spontaneous interpretations to responses that might
have affected the quality of the data collected.
In contrast to the first example, this study did not aim to use
analysis of the researchers counter-transference as a central
research tool, but to map in a systematic fashion the dimensions of
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the interviewers personal involvement and investment in the


interview process. The knowledge of these subjective attitudes
helped to establish a protocol of training and supervision of the
interviewers, which in turn helped them to deal with the personal and
subjective difficulties arising in the interviewer-respondent
interaction.
Aside from its psychoanalytical origin, counter-transference raises
the broader question about the nature and extent of human
involvement in scientific work. A serious consideration of this
question may encourage a little more modesty in the desire for
absolute objectivity in science and remind us of the limitations in our
quest for knowledge.

The English version of the paper


has been edited by Gabrielle
Ivinson (Cardiff University)
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Notes
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[1]. I wish to thank Professor Tobie Nathan (Director of the Centre


George Devereux at the University of Paris 8 Saint Denis for
having directed me towards biographical data about Devereux. (cf.
"Sarava " pp. 229-237 in T. Nathan : Psychanalyse paenne. Essais
ethnopsychanalytiques. Editions Odile Jacob, Paris, 1988.

[2]. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has named this


process : the "passion for ignorance".

*Alain Giami is a social psychologist. He works currently as a


full time researcher at Inserm (French National Institute of
Health and Medical Research) in Paris and teaches in the
doctoral program in Psychology at Universit Paris 8 (SaintDenis). He is responsible for the research team : "Sexuality,
society, individual". He published several books and papers about
representations of sexuality, handicap and AIDS. He is currently
working on a book about the medicalisation of sexuality in which
he tries to articulate historical, societal, and individual

Abstract : Counter-transference is a controversial notion that


requires careful discussion. It originated in the field of
psychoanalysis and describes the analysts unconscious
reactions to the patient. It was exported from the field of
therapy to that of research by Georges Devereux. He
appropriated the term counter-transference to describe a
researchers unconscious attitudes and, more specifically,
his/her subjectivity in relation to the research object and the
field. The latter includes the researchers personal involvement
with the research object, which Devereux proposed to analyse
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along with his/her attitude to the practice of research as


significant aspects in the construction of knowledge. In this
paper, counter-transference will be discussed as a theoretical
concept, as a reflexive attitude of the researcher, and as a field
of research. Some examples of research that draw upon these
various uses of the concept will be presented.
[Giami Alain (2001) Counter-transference in social research: beyond George
Devereux, Papers in Social Research Methods - Qualitative Series, no 7, [ed
MW Bauer].London School of Economics, Methodology Institute]

Correspondance : giami@vjf.inserm.fr
re tour au site du C e ntre Ge orge s De ve re ux :

http://e thnopsychiatrie .ne t

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