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Lou Andreas-Salome

Lou Andreas-Salome was the first to sense in Ferenczi the intensity of a disturbance not at all due to the imaginary father-son representation, but entir ely due to an analytic fact inherent to the act of speech itself in the context of analysis and in exchanges between analysts. As early as 1913, Lou was surprised by the strange inhibition paradoxically experienced by Ferenczi in the midst of the prolific collaboration between the most valued pupil he has become and Freud, the enlightened master. This strange, silent inhibition has the formidable power, on occasion, to leave Ferenczi speechless and unable to think when he is face-to-face with Freud.

Early in the spring of 1913, Lou Andreas-Salome made a first three-day visit to Budapest, to see Ferenczi and continue her initiation into psychoanalysis, begun the previous autumn in Vienna. She took the initiative of inciting Ferenczi to bring out of oblivion the notes he jots down in a diary and then no longer consults, not bothering to expand on them. Lou is very impressed with the philosophical dimension she discovers in these intuitions Ferenczi is reluctant to put to use. She is particularly strack by his critical reservations about the existence of the “tendency to death” theorised by Freud, since she herself shares these reservations. In her journal, she does not hide her delight: “However fantastic the consequences of some of [his ideas] may yet seem to Ferenczi himself, it would be good if his way of seeing things would influence Freud’s philosophical views.”

Lou appears to understand Ferenczi’s attitude, although he backs away from the paths his thoughts want to explore and clarify: “His ideas worry him [...] since they are of a philosophical (synthetic) nature, they don’t oppose Freud’s, although, precisely for this reason, Freud is not happy with them.” More astutely still, she supposes that Ferenczi knows that Freud is too busy and too preoccupied to be able to share his thoughts with him:

In the conversations with Ferenczi it became very clear to me that all Freud’s well-wishers must for the present hope for the most tolerant policy on his part toward the schisms. This policy is best for his own work and peace of mind and hence also indirectly for his cause [...]

Indeed, Freud needs to protect himself from the political tunnoil agitating the Freudian circle at the time. Lou concludes that the difficulty she senses in the relation between the two men is momentary: “perhaps publication of Ferenczi’s ideas is premature with respect to Freud’s present and next endeavors, but they really are complementary. So Ferenczi’s time must come.”

But fortunately Lou Andreas-Salome went beyond these reasonable observations. Used to the company of exceptional men like Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke and recently Freud, she perceived with rare finesse another enigmatic characteristic of Ferenczi’s relation, not with Freud, but with his own analytic concepts:

But it is significant that Ferenczi speaks of these, his dearest ideas, those by which he might be said to live in his lonely state (as the manner of his talking about them plainly attests), as “craziness,” “pathological curiosity,” and his binning “desire for omniscience.”

Thus, she reveals that Ferenczi lacks confidence in the ideas formulated in his writings, not recognising them as his own, and apparently experiencing them as emerging fr om an obscure place with no guarantee, as if produced by someone other than himself. Intrigued by this discovery, Lou proves to be clairvoyant, showing Ferenczi to be trapped in an impossible dilemma, unable either to formulate his thoughts or betray them, without being a coward: “It is interesting how even in the midst of his work he himself tries to run away from [his innermost experiences], although he is passionately determined to pursue them.” This fierce determination she senses under Ferenczi’s reserve reinforces her conviction: “Ferenczi’s time must come.” When she makes this prophecy, Lou Andreas-Salome is both right and wrong.

She is wrong in two ways. The undeniable malaise she detects in the friendship and cooperation between the two analysts she considers the most accomplished does not originate in their philosophical convictions. Moreover, Ferenczi’s time would not come as she imagined and hoped.

But now, at the start of 1913, Lou is also right in two ways. She is not mistaken when she detects the fear that grips Ferenczi at the idea of moving away fr om his position as a loyal Freudian, and letting his own voice and difference finally be heard. To speak “to” Freud, even in self-analysis, to speak of, or based on, his doctrines, is not yet, as Ferenczi knows, to state a viewpoint emerging from a place other than frill consciousness.

Lou is also right to suppose that what sometimes stops Ferenczi in his tracks, as if paralysed by the Medusa’s gaze, is not connected to fear of the disapproval of the father of psychoanalysis, but to a deeper anxiety. Ferenczi confided to Lou that he was haunted by the ghost of the unwelcome child he had been, the son of a mother with too many childr en, prematurely widowed: “Ferenczi suffered as a child from insufficient recognition of his accomplishments, and it interfered with his diligence. Now alongside his publications, these works of his that contain his innermost spiritual experiences run a rather secret course because they are unappreciated.” With a clairvoyance the two men do not yet possess, Lou differentiates between the works Ferenczi takes credit for, presents before audiences or publishes, and the works in which his dignity as a desiring subject is invested, which he keeps to himself

But when she made this journal entry about her stay in Budapest, did Lou Andreas-Salome know that three months earlier Ferenczi had already taken a radical and unprecedented initiative: that of asking Freud for an in-depth analysis? After long years of self-analysis, the time for analysis had now come for Ferenczi.

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