Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 287-294

First online:

The omnipotent clinician: A potential source of iatrogenesis

  • Robert S. PepperAffiliated with

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Clinicians who do not acknowledge their delusions of omnipotence can do harm to their patients when these feelings are acted out in the treatment. In breaking the frame of the therapy these clinicians inadvertently create the potential for iatrogenic treatment reactions. When practitioners knowingly practiced outside the boundaries of the established wisdom and theoretical knowledge of the profession, an ethical problem arises. Under such conditions, it can be said that the practitioner consciously jeopardize his patients emotional, and at time, physical well-being. Justifying their behavior, some therapists ironically assert that they are morally superior to others who adhere to the rules of treatment. As Langs note, when boundaries are blurred therapists often unconsciously dumps their pathology into the patient who must then struggle to contain the toxic feelings of both parties. Resolution to this type of countertransference may come through greater awareness of the therapeutic community at large as to the dangers of acting out feelings of omnipotence in the treatment.