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Ferenczi’s comments on Jung

Ferenczi’s very first words go to the heart of the matter. Rather than drawing Freud's attention to the obvious theoretical disagreements between Jung and the Freudians, he points out Jung’s personal relation to psychoanalysis. With formidable astuteness, he chooses not to dwell on the impertinence of Jung’s behaviour towards Freud, and to concentrate on his disregard for the defining principle of psychoanalysis:

Jung’s behaviour is uncommonly impudent. He forgets that it was he who demanded the ‘analytic community’ of students and treating students like patients. But as soon as it has to do with him, he doesn’t want this rale to be valid anymore.

His criticism is radical: the young President of the IPA would like future students to undergo psychoanalysis with their elders who have not been analysed. Ten years later. Ferenczi was still criticising this aberrant state of affairs where patients in therapeutic analysis are better analysed than their own analysts, since the “didactic analysis” practised in Berlin was, by definition, short and incomplete. Without providing further details about the difference between the “analytic community” of students and the student’s experience as patient. Ferenczi starts by pointing out the arbitrary and unclear exceptional position demanded by Jung: all students must undergo analysis, except him. This explains his recent rebellion when Freud remarked on the slip in his letter.

Then Ferenczi very skillfully employs a logical argument and accomplishes two things at once. He dismantles Jung’s arrogant demand and brings Freud face-to-face with the truth of his exceptional position: “Mutual analysis is nonsense, also an impossibility.” The mutual analysis he speaks of here is not the analysis with which he was going to experiment jirst before the 1930s; it is simply the placing in common of the self-analyses of different individuals, as was the case between Freud, Jung and Ferenczi while they were sailing to America. It is the analysis constantly practiced in Freud’s letters, especially to Ferenczi. And the latter continues: “Everyone must be able to tolerate an authority over himself from whom he accepts analytical correction. You are probably the only one who can permit himself to do without an analyst.” Contrary to Jung, Ferenczi is not reproaching Freud for not having undergone a veritable analysis; rather, he emphasises that reality has shown that Freud is the exception which confirms the rale. Since no other analyst preceded him, the man who discovered psychoanalysis became an analyst without being analysed. He is then the one on whose couch a few other analysts like Ferenczi could be analysed. Unwittingly, and far from suspecting the import of this act, Ferenczi introduces de facto a difference between the founding father, the man involved in the imaginary father-son relation, and paternal function, an agency of otherness able to instigate correction of the words and deeds of the other.

Moreover, he is able to discern the most subtle effective tendency underlying Jung’s theoretical positions. Theoretical disagreements are secondary to a more secret internal discrepancy. “Jung is the typical instigator and founder of religion. The father plays almost no role in his new work; the Christian community of brothers takes up all the room in it.”

Clairvoyant and rigorous, Ferenczi reminds Freud that he is the only one with whom he can consider undergoing the kind of in-depth analysis he seeks. He is suggesting that Freud give up his stubborn illusion that any truth-loving man who has dreams and wants to learn about the unconscious, can embark on the path of self-analysis he himself followed. Ferenczi insists on his conviction - which he would later moderate - that for Freud, who had not benefitted from analysis, self-analysis would have to suffice: “Despite all the deficiencies of self-analysis (which is certainly lengthier and more difficult than being analysed), we have to expect of you the ability to keep your symptoms in check.” Implicitly, Ferenczi is differentiating between the art of ordinary self-analysis, in which he has become a master, and the exceptional self-analysis undertaken by Freud in complete solitude earlier. Ferenczi now reminds him of this:

For better or for worse: in future you also have to content yourself with selfanalysis, fr om which such a rich harvest has grown for the benefit of science [...]. If yort have the strength to overcome in yourself, without a leader (for the first tirrre in the history of mankind), the resistances which all humanity blings to bear on the results of analysis, then we must expect of you the strength to dispense with your lesser symptoms. - The facts speak decidedly in favour of this.

In stark contrast with Jung, who insists on seeing Freud as the all-powerful father wanting to dominate his sons, here Ferenczi portrays Freud as an analyst who must consent to work with his students despite his flaw - in this instance, the lack of personal analysis.

After entrusting Freud with the potential function of analyst which should rightfully be his, Ferenczi speaks of the potential analysand one or the other of the members of his circle might wish to become. This is, notably, his own case. It now seems clear that for a practitioner of analysis a true personal analysis can no longer be limited to the self-analysis recommended at the time, even if it benefits from Freud’s benevolent observation:

But what is valid for you is not valid for the rest of us. [...] The rest of us, however, have to consider ourselves fortunate if you help us to control our affects in the only effective, i.e. analytically legitimate way. and give us hints that call our attention to the weak points of our psychic organization.

Now, Ferenczi has established the minimal preliminary setting required for the possible encounter between an analyst - also the father of psychoanalysis - and an analysand - also a friend and recognised practitioner. The great difference between Jung and Ferenczi has come to light. While the former refuses, with almost deranged vehemence, to be engaged in any form of mutual analysis with Freud, and what is worse, even to entertain the idea of personal analysis, the latter is ready to make an even more important commitment than he thinks. Indeed, Ferenczi will not only undertake personal analysis, but will embark on an original inquiry on what such an analysis could be and should be - an analysis of the personality as a whole which can be brought to an end.

Ferenczi’s position is completely opposed to Jung’s, although they started out from the same vantage point: a dissatisfaction springing from their relationship with Freud: “I, too, went though a period of rebellion against your ‘treatment.’”

Indeed, whether we think of the Palermo episode in 1910, the Emma Jung incident in 1911 or the affair involving Elma in 1911-1912, Freud had not been tender with Ferenczi on those occasions, any more than when he had been quick to interpret his digressions and errors. Still, the difference between Jrurg and Ferenczi’s reactions is startling. Jung experiences as serious abuse the analytic remarks Freud feels free to make, given his work since the origins of analysis; Ferenczi, on the other hand, does not find them arbitrary or harsh, but insufficient, incomplete and too unilateral. Completely convinced of the powers of analysis, Ferenczi was dreaming, but the outrageous violence of Jung’s recent retort yanked him out of his reverie. He no longer likened Jung’s unease with his own past distress; he had come to a firm conclusion:

Now I have become insightful and find that you were right in everything, and that you could have done me no other service then allowing yourself, in my education, to be guided not always by feeling but often by analytic insight.

Thus, thanks to these insights, and quite reasonably following from them, on December 26, 1912, he finally, and for the first time, asks for in-depth personal analysis.

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