In 1957 the psychiatrist and Jungian analyst, Michael Fordham, forwarded the term “syntonic counter-transference” (SCT) to describe a kind of transference where the analyst enters into a “primitive identity” with the analysand. With SCT the analyst apparently senses the patient’s unconscious feelings, usually at the same time as the patient. However, sometimes the analyst picks up on the patient’s feelings before the patient becomes aware of them.
A somewhat mysterious idea that is difficult to verify, SCT raises questions that figures like Stanislav Grof and C. G. Jung have looked at within their respective schools of transpersonal psychiatry and analytical psychology.
One problem with SCT arises if the analyst becomes grandiose, falsely believing he or she arrives at the truth of a dynamic before the client does. The potential for abuse relating to a dysfunctional relationship and misplaced trust in the analyst is arguably no small matter. To counteract this issue, responsible therapists speak of a “therapeutic relationship” where doctor and client learn something from each other while maintaining emotional objectivity. But this is the ideal, of course. It’s a well known fact that Jung, himself, had an affair with Sabina Spielrein, one of his clients.