Maternal Altruism and Boundary Violations

January 7, 2014
Lecturer: Beth Seelig, MD
Discussant: Robert Michels MD

Altruism, defined by Seelig & Rosof (2001) as, “a range of both normal and pathological behaviors that are consciously intended to, and actually may, benefit another,” is characteristic of most, if not all, analysts and therapists. The problematic initial request for consultation and reanalysis of a highly caring and altruistic therapist (Mrs A) who is involved in an ongoing boundary violation with a borderline patient is presented. The complex clinical, professional, ethical and potentially legal ramifications of Mrs A’s boundary violation, its meaning as an enactment of the transference/countertransference between her and her patient, the transference/countertransference between Mrs A and the author, and Mrs A’s traumatic early life history and prior analysis are discussed.