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I Before the actual request for analysis (1908-1912)

Teaching, love and trembling (1908-1909)

In 1909, at the end of the summer, Freud and Jung sail for New York; they have been invited by James J. Putnam to lecture at Clark University in Worcester. Freud has asked Ferenczi to join them. Each morning, while the two of them stroll in the countryside, Freud prepares the lecture he will give that afternoon. The two men grow closer. Freud’s letter dated October 6, 1909, opens for the first time with “Dear friend,” instead of “Dear Doctor” or “Esteemed colleague.” Freud did not bestow such marks of friendship easily. On October 22, Freud confides to Ferenczi, for whom clinical work is a veritable passion, that he doesn’t feel the same way: “The patients are disgusting and are giving me an opportunity for new studies on technique.” On October 30, in response to Freud’s request that Ferenczi promote the teaching of psychoanalysis, Ferenczi’s letter expresses satisfaction with what has been accomplished over the past 20 months. “Do not be frightened by my talkativeness; I only want to remain true to the tradition of reporting on the progress of my apostolic mission on the basis of fresh impressions.” And he reports on his performance: “So, today was the lecture about ‘Everyday Life.’ I was happy that I could speak before approximately three hundred young and enthusiastic medical students, who listened to my (or, that is to say, your) words with bated breath.” The two men have grown so close that when Ferenczi gives lectures on psychoanalysis, it might as well be Freud speaking. Well-versed in self-analysis, Ferenczi adds a few words in parentheses on a matter that he senses may become problematic between them: “(N.B.: I have already determined that it has to do with the infantile wish to be praised by the father.)”

Ferenczi perfectly understands the effect of the transference which develops in a relation of shared work and a common cause, when there is also friendship involved, and even a father/son relation: Freud often places his colleague (17 years his junior) in the generation of his children. He can envisage Ferenczi marrying his daughter, and invites him to hike in the mountains with his sons. In the correspondence, Ferenczi relies increasingly on their transferential relation to discuss his personal life - that of a 37-year-old bachelor. Freud becomes the one from whom he seeks support for, and to whom he addresses, his self-analysis; this analysis becomes part of the content of the letters, along with the exchange of ideas, and information about the progress of the movement. Moreover, as early as the summer of 1908, Freud points out to the man he now regards as a potential successor that he is at a disadvantage for someone who will soon have to bear responsibility for the emerging psychoanalytic movement, because at 37 he is still unmarried and has no children - nor would he have any later - while at the same age Freud was a married man and the father of five children. This was another considerable difference between the psychic structure of the two men. Shortly after their trip to America, as they grew closer, Ferenczi was very willing to discuss this problem. In fact, at first, it was unclear which of the two men considered it more troublesome. Their relationship would soon become more complicated and take another direction which we see as having led to the request for analysis.

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