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“Anyone wanting to know how it feels to be a psychoanalytic therapist should read this book. Dhwani Shah has given us an uncommonly honest, compelling account of the emotional consequences of genuine engagement with patients’ suffering...”

- Nancy McWilliams,
PhD, ABPP, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology

Book Cover of The Analyst’s Torment_ Unbearable Mental States in Countertransference


Unbearable Mental States in Countertransference

A searingly honest book detailing how analysts can improve their practice by understanding their own emotional states of mind.

Author: Dhwani Shah
ISBN: 9781912691845
Format: Paperback, e-Book, Print & e-Book


In this exceptional debut work, Dhwani Shah moves the focus away from using psychoanalytic theory and technique to explore the patient’s mind from a safe distance.

He instead emphasizes the analyst’s feelings, subjective experiences, and histories, and explores how these impact on the intersubjective space between analyst and patient.


Eight chapters each highlight a particular emotional state or problematic feeling and explore their impact on the analytic work, dealing with uncomfortable themes for the analyst to face, such as arrogance, racism, dread and its close relation erotic dread, dissociation, shame, hopelessness, and jealousy.

By understanding their own therapeutic motivations, mishaps, and stumbles with patients, analysts can understand what impedes their capacity to face up to their feelings and the impact of this in the therapy room.


Dhwani Shah’s The Analyst’s Torment is honest, probing, and does not hesitate in the pursuit of investigating the integrity of psychoanalytic work. The book draws from a range of theorists but does not stay aloft in abstract, illustrating the ideas with detailed, incisive clinical examples.


Shah addresses many of the most compelling topics that influence contemporary psychoanalytic work. However, this is a book that all clinicians can learn and grow from: humility is needed in order to be genuinely affected by and to affect our patients.

- Elliot Jurist

Ph.D., Professor, Psychology and Philosophy, CCNY, CUNY

In The Analyst’s Torment, Dhwani Shah speaks to what remains silenced within the analyst’s mind: their arrogance, racism, dread of mental anguish or unrelenting erotic longing, envy, and jealousy. Affects that can leave the analyst ashamed, dissociated, and, if prolonged, in a state of existential hopelessness.


Shah explores all this and more with openness and authenticity, allowing the clinician to recognize similar affects within themselves; remaining in the sunken and unsavoury places that must be embodied for therapeutic understanding and transformation. During this time of pandemic, sociopolitical and racial upheaval, Shah’s compassion invites the reader to dwell within these complex affect states for their inherent value, resulting in our feeling less alone and incapacitated by these powerful emotions.


Shah’s book should be a constant companion for any contemporary psychotherapist or psychoanalyst and should serve as a source of relief in these tormenting times.

- Dionne R. Powell, MD

Training and Supervising Analyst, the Psychoanalytic Association of New York and Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Sitting all day in a chair, listening to innumerable tales of horror, certainly cannot be described as easy or relaxing. In this immensely honest, highly refreshing, and grippingly written book,


Dr Dhwani Shah has drawn upon his rich clinical experience and his unique insights, and has provided us with a very illuminating map of the confidential complexities of the consulting room.


Every mental health clinician should read this excellent work, which will prompt us all to review our own practices with much greater vigilance.

- Professor Brett Kahr

Senior Fellow, Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London and Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health, Regent’s University London

While this book covers many complex psychoanalytic concepts, it does so in a way that is accessible and peppered with personal insight and humour. […] Shah has an easy, conversational style in presenting the clinical work, and is incredibly honest in sharing his own personal thoughts, feelings and associations to it, including his perceived missteps.

- Jeanine Connor

Psychodynamic psychotherapist, ‘Therapy Today’ 

Anyone wanting to know how it feels to be a psychoanalytic therapist should read this book. Dhwani Shah has given us an uncommonly honest, compelling account of the emotional consequences of genuine engagement with patients’ suffering.


Although his writing reflects extensive scholarship and clinical experience, it is his humanity, humility, and originality that take these chapters beyond ordinary reflections on countertransference.


The Analyst’s Torment achieves something rare for a psychoanalytic book: it is a real page-turner. I recommend it enthusiastically to clinicians, students, patients, and scholars interested in the haunted inner life of the therapist.

- Nancy McWilliams

PhD, ABPP, Rutgers Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology

In my opinion, this should be required reading for anyone in training to be a therapist as well as for experts who have been in the field for years!


He covers such important topics that even seasoned clinicians have difficulty talking about like racism, arrogance and helplessness. If you’re a mental health therapist, it is definitely worth adding this book to your shelf!

- Reader Review

A joy to read
Beyond the obvious extensive clinical expertise and knowledge that Dr Shah shares with his readers with ease, the true joy of his work comes from hearing his authentic and genuine voice fill the pages. This is a must read for all clinicians in the field!

- Buyer Review


17 May, 2023

Online talk. Author, Dr Dhwani Shah in conversation with Dr Aisha Abbasi

The Freud Museum is delighted to welcome author Dr Dhwani Shah to discuss his debut publication The Analyst’s Torment: Unbearable Mental States in Countertransference (2022, Phoenix). The conversation will be guided by psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Dr Aisha Abbasi.

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