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The second segment of analysis

As soon as he is back in Budapest, Ferenczi is once again faced with indecision in regard to the romantic choice expected of him by Gizella and Elma, as well as by Freud, who is secretly annoyed with his hesitation in personal affairs. On January 17, 1916, Ferenczi complains:

I was immediately placed into the situation in which I was at the time of the inner division on account of Elma: my libido was withdrawn fr om Frau G.; after cessation of my sexual overestimation I saw with gruesome clarity the changes brought about by age which were evident in her.

Here, he engages, as he so often has in the past, in a lengthy attempt at self-analysis of his dilemma. The next day, Freud’s answer is firm, although it is difficult to say whether he is speaking as Ferenczi’s analyst or as the head of a movement which needs men dedicated to the cause: “Your interpretations are certainly correct, but they still leave out [...] the most important thing.” Freud considers that the time has come for Ferenczi to make a decision, take action, say yes or no to marriage; and that neither analysis nor self-analysis can help him avoid the risk he must take. Hence, Freud’s advice is: “So, act now, as swiftly and decisively as possible, and refrain from analysis now, or treat it as an extra enjoyment without real influence.” This injunction from Vienna complicates things for Ferenczi, who can’t be sure whether he will be acting of his own accord or wider Freud’s influence. Therefore, he apologises for being drawn once again into a laborious self-analysis of his relation with Freud, who clearly expects something else of him:

I feel like a wayward son who has only mischief to report. But I am also remiss in complete honesty with respect to you - since this is the first condition for improvement. I remind you of my neurotic behaviour in the Hotel de France in Palermo. There, too, the fear of succumbing to your suggestion in common scientific work and of not writing my own opinion was to blame for my refusal.

Did Freud perceive Ferenczi’s awkward insistence on showing him that under the influence exerted by the symptomatic position of an indecisive and immature man, another symptomatic position was manifest - not that of his romantic relation to the woman, but his transferential position in relation to Freud himself? Still in the grip of tormenting indecision, Ferenczi is unwell and speculates about his physical symptoms. Maintaining his rigorous attitude, on March 12 Freud speaks with the same firmness: “One must be able to decide whether one loves a woman or not even with stuffed-up nostrils. Of cowse, I know how difficult it is to differentiate between the psychic and the somatic in one’s own person.” On April 7 Ferenczi refers to his short visit to Vienna, where the two men obviously had a chance to talk: “The stay in Vienna did me much good. As confirmation of the fact that I belong to the ‘not-wanting-to-act’ type, I can tell you that I already gave up a relationship [...] when it was threatening to be realized.” Later that month, these rather monotonous exchanges ended when, on April 27, Ferenczi expressed his wish to start a second segment of analysis shortly. Before making his request, he informed Freud that he has jrrst sent a short article on analytic technique to Harms Sachs. He implied that his scientific work as an analyst was inseparable from the work of the analysand he soon expected to be: “I didn’t want to touch on the great and difficult theme of the physician’s active intervention in the analysis and confined myself to repeating what I learned from you about the ‘Recommendations.’” [“Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis,” 1912]. But Ferenczi is mistaken: he is unable to confine himself to applying - as a good professional shortld - Freud’s technical advice, precisely because as an analysand he is disconcerted by the personal experience of the advice his analyst gives him in a very direct and even intrusive manner.

Ferenczi’s short article was published in 1919 under the title “On Influencing of the Patient in Psycho-Analysis.” When it was written, in the spring of 1916, Ferenczi knew exactly what he was talking about. He was deliberately diverging from Jones’ opinion that “A psycho-analyst should never advise a patient, least of all to sexual intercourse.” Ferenczi advances the hypothesis that in certain cases, and at certain moments in the analysis, the analyst can intervene actively without being disloyal to a certain principle of analytic purity. He submits the following argument:

In many cases of anxiety hysteria and of hysterical impotence, I found that the analysis went smoothly up to a certain point. The patients had full insight but the therapeutic result was always delayed; the ideas even began to repeat themselves with a certain monotony, as though the patient had nothing more to say, as though their unconscious were exhausted.

In the spring of 1916, Ferenczi’s interests are starting to focus more and more on analytic technique. Indeed, he is the one who promotes the use of Freud’s active technique, which he is experiencing firsthand on Freud’s couch.

At this period, when he encounters not only the limits of self-analysis but also those of free association in the analyses he conducts - as is the case in his own atypical personal analysis - Ferenczi finds support in a remark made by Freud earlier, which suggested the possible benefits of an active influence, not to be confused with hypnotic suggestion. His article states:

In this predicament some verbal advice of Prof. Freud’s came to my assistance. He explained to me that after a certain time one must call upon anxiety hysterics to give up their phobically strengthened inhibitions and to attempt to do just what they are most afraid of.

The Hungarian version of the article gave examples: “[...] try, despite painful anxiety, to go out alone, attend social events, go to the theatre, etc.” Did Freud consider Ferenczi’s fear of marriage an anxiety hysteria? In any case, the influence Freud allowed himself to exert on his analysand had a fortunate collateral effect. It made the latter aware of the importance of technique in the analytic process. But, while Ferenczi, the analyst, takes a step forward, the analysand he is finds himself at a standstill.

On April 27, his desire to continue the analysis is very clear:

What concerns me otherwise are all the old things: Indecision [...] Paralysis naturally extends to all intentions. - Since I am giving up the Berlin trip (I expect nothing from the rhinologist there), I am plamiing instead of that to spend the whole three weeks that I am aspiring to in analysis. Perhaps the beginning of June. Two hours a day: that makes almost forty hours of analysis.

As he had done just before the start of the first segment of analysis - perhaps as a warning - he points out that the positive or negative effect of advice from the analyst depends on the moment in the analysis when it is given: “Obviously I am not so far [along] that one could successfully ‘advise’ me. Incidentally, a nice example of how little use in analysis ‘suggestions’ are, for which one is not yet ripe enough.” But this reservation in no way denotes ambivalence on Ferenczi’s part; his determination has not weakened: "The relief which this letter also gave me speaks for a real ‘hunger for analysis.’”

On May 30, knowing he would be granted three weeks’ leave starting on June 15, he lets Freud know: “I would like [...] to spend this time in treatment with you and request that you reserve two horns a day. My long silence is evidently in preparation for much talking in the sessions.” On June 7, Ferenczi amrounces his arrivai: “My leave has been granted. I arrive in Vienna on the 13th or the evening of the 14th and will perhaps be able to take the first hours already on the 14th.” On June 13, he arrives in Vienna.

Once he is back in Budapest, on July 10, he writes a letter to Freud describing the immediate effects of his recent experience on the couch: “Above all, I think I can establish that these three weeks were the decisive ones in my life and for my life.” He enumerates the changes he sees in himself. He has revealed the most important one to his companion:

Today I told Gisella that I have become another person, one who is less interesting but more normal. I also admitted to her that something in me pities [the loss of] the old, somewhat unsettled man, who was nonetheless capable of such great enthusiasm (and certainly often needlessly depressed).

Undeceived, he knows that his dreams and his discomfort are telling him that he is not completely cur ed of his cruel indecision vis-à-vis Gizella, nor of Iris ambivalence towards Freud. Not fully convinced, he says he counts on the correspondence as a way to continue the analysis: “Probably an indication that I still have work to do on myself. If you pennit, instead of simple autoanalysis I want to attempt to analyze the particular occurrences in my letters to you; the transference will certainly ‘fecundate’ me.” As he did two years earlier, Ferenczi suffers from the sudden breaking off of this segment of analysis: “Tire feeling of gr atitude that I owe you for your' kind assistance will -1 hope - permeate me more and more. For the moment the break in our- doctor-patient relations was too sudden not to have caused a certain shock effect.”

What he has just experienced and discovered on the couch leads him to draw a conclusion he sees as a theoretical advance:

Theoretically, it is very interesting to learn why the analyzed patient cannot be grateful to his doctor. The doctor has certainly made him ‘healthy,’ i.e., taught him to comply with the real demands of life. But he took away the pleasure which in the unconscious accompanied all his [no matter how] uncomfortable, indeed, perhaps lethal, symptoms.

Here, Ferenczi is making a double discovery, which he is going to keep in mind. To psychoanalysis seen as the deciphering of unconscious formations, he adds psychoanalysis seen as an intervention in instinctual economy, and particularly in the economy of jouissance, which Freud would soon show to aim at something beyond the pleasure principle. Moreover, Ferenczi implies that this unavoidable loss of pleasure brought about in the treatment must affect the transference, inevitably calling attention to its negative aspect sooner or later.

The rest of the letter makes clear that once again Freud has taken an active role in the treatment of his analysand, who, in his work as an analyst, draws useful conclusions from this. “Analysis suddenly makes out of a man who has remained childish, therefore basically carefree, another who really becomes conscious of all responsibilities.” But the letter dated July 28 reveals that Freud’s probable injunctions to Ferenczi have not been altogether successfill:

[...] of my earlier symptoms, two important ones still persist: the inability to make a decision in the question of marriage - and my inability to work. - The parallelism of both symptoms is too striking to have escaped me. But the deeper connection is still missing.

As a result, he decides to do what is needed: follow up the previous segment of analysis: “I have the right to claim an additional two weeks’ leave in the course of this year. I want to take it at the end of September [or beginning of October] and dedicate it to terminating or completing the treatment.”

Ferenczi does not forget to mention what he has learned from his own experience of analysis, as if to point out the deepening of his understanding of what had previously been a theoretical concept: “I am incredibly much indebted to the last analysis for my analytic technique. It occurs to me that I have only now grasped the significance of repetition in the treatment in all its depth.” This remark on repetition is significant, since it indicates the point of origin of a major clinical interest that Ferenczi would soon place at the centre of the revision of analytic practices he undertook in 1922.

On July 31 Freud answers a letter from Gizella in which she asked whether he considers it fair that she wait for her daughter Elma’s return before making her own decision regarding the desire for marriage she senses Ferenczi would soon express. Freud resolutely avoids giving her an answer, and rages her to be clear about what she herself wants. Then he makes a confession which sheds light on his countertransference in Ferenczi’s analysis:

After containing myself for years with regard to our friend, I have finally come forward with advice, because I believed in the meantime to have arrived at the conviction that there is no other possibility, and because I am in general disposed to believe in the imminent end of all things -youth among them.

Thus, Freud has advised his analysand directly to many the mother rather than the daughter, to help him leave behind his illusions of youthfulness. But, wanting to be frank, Freud also tells her how frightening this is to him as an analyst:

Now I am becoming frightened and would [...] not like to have advised anything. Not out of cowardice about taking responsibility, but because I feel uncertain and am naturally much too engaged to be able to judge without error what is best.

Thus, Freud, after exerting, in all probability, an active and unambiguous influence on his analysand, reveals to his future wife that he is not free of doubt and indecision. The image of the analyst asserting the inevitable renunciation of a fantasy of youth unaffected by castration and by the arrival of the time of desire is covered over for an instant by the man who doubts and expresses indecision. On August 2, 1916, Freud consents to Ferenczi’s request: “Your intention to dedicate two more weeks of leave to the analysis has my full approval. The when and where then depends on the extremely [uncertain] circumstances of this summer.” On August 14, Ferenczi confirms the new direction his analytic research is taking - in our opinion - as a result of his personal experience in analysis: “My interest in the subtleties of technique has taken the place of my earlier bio-psychological interests.” Thalassa has become a secondary interest.

Tims, in the summer of 1916 Ferenczi starts to use, in his own analytic practice in Budapest, the active technique he experienced in Vienna as an analysand. Although the two men don’t know it yet, this is the beginning of a change in Ferenczi’s perspective, which would continue to deepen until it created a gap between them that ultimately broke the magical tluead of their dialogue. Freud always considered Thalassa, in which Ferenczi expounds his genitality theory, his colleague’s most accomplished work, and always associated him with this contribution, despite Ferenczi’s vehement protests. Much later, on September 21,1930, he made his objection very clear: “The ‘theory of genitality’ was the product of pure speculation at a time when, far removed from my practice, I totally gave way to contemplation (military service).”

But in the summer of 1916, Ferenczi didn’t know yet that Freud would never adopt this new perspective which now leads him to foctrs all his interest as an analyst on the treatment, the technique and the analyst’s training. We can assert with confidence that this new orientation is the result of his experience in the personal analysis he is determined to continue. On September 15, Ferenczi makes his great desire for analysis known: “For certain practical reasons I am postponing my trip until the 25th of the month - but I ask you to reserve three hours per day [...] for me. I don’t dare ask for four.” He finally arrives in Vienna on September 29, and returns to Budapest on October 13.

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