p. 8 Sheldon Roth, 1987
It seems to be part of the therapist’s sensibility that he or she has suffered, uncovers further suffering in the course of personal therapy, and suffers further in greater or lesser degree as the transference exacts its inevitable toll.
The therapist is permitted to have neurotic problems of character – they may actually be desirable – but they must be of a nature that does not limit the therapist’s further growth and development. Excessive sadism, inability to profit from life despite earlier neurotic difficulties, and rigidity of defenses based on anxiety arising from challenges to narcissistic issues (such as infantile omnipotence) are some of the foremost barriers to becoming an effective therapist. Persons with substantial components of these factors should consider another profession.
Sadism, in particular, creates havoc in the therapeutic relationship. Patients suffer (themselves) from the tendency of aggressive impulses to splinter personality into primitive self-destructive elements. When similar affects are felt to be coming from the therapist it becomes a losing battle for the patient.
A certain amount of sadistic straw may be spun into therapeutic gold. According to Sharpe (1930), the ‘urge to cure’ rests in part on the desire to nullify infantile, sadistic impulses to maim, destroy, or kill. Enduring anxieties over these issues lead to the wish to heal, cure, and make well.