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Transference disorder

In his letter of November 20, and perhaps in view of “significant psychic progress”, Freud asserts:

Your letter has strengthened all my convictions, both with respect to the fact that there is no other way out for you but to many Frau G., and that you will not cease with the production of “avoidances” until you are confronted with a fait accompli. If only the miserable six months were already over!

He sheds light on the perspective that guided him during Ferenczi’s analysis: “You emphasize that the signs of age in Frau G. have scared you away. There are undeniable, but are seen by you from a false perspective.” It seems to us that Freud provides further clarification because he supposes that Ferenczi might be asking himself what role counteitransference plays in Freud’s convictions: “Perhaps you think, since I myself have grown old and have no access to youth, that I am also wishing an old woman on you. No, I wouldn’t have asked that of you [...]” Is Freud taking a defensive attitude on account of his involvement in the delicate private affairs of his friend, or even to account for a part of his countertransference? Is there another factor at play - perhaps to do with both men’s fantasies regarding temporality and age - a recunent theme in then' correspondence? At 44, Ferenczi seems to be in the grip of a longing for youth and a search for youthfulness. Freud, who is 61, has long been living with the certainty of his approaching death, and its corollary: the urgent quest for an heir to succeed him.

This is Freud’s state of mind when he responds by referring to his own tiredness to the feeling of renewal Ferenczi is enjoying: “The times also demand achievement from each of us; they will become hard. I alone perhaps have a right to flirt with peace and quiet. I have worked hard, am worn out, and am beginning to find the world repulsively disgusting.” Moreover, as he once did with Jung, Freud suggests to Ferenczi that he could soon be the heir he needs: “The superstition that has limited my life to around February 1918 seems downright friendly to me. Sometimes I have to struggle for a long time until I regain my superiority.” Ferenczi refuses to be drawn in; on December 13 he writes:

I have already participated in a few such ‘leave-taking moods’ with you. They were always followed by a rejuvenation and something [good] for us, your pupils. So pardon me if [...] I don’t take this mood of yours in all too tragic a light and hold fast to my optimism.

An active professional life, along with his acceptance of marital life, seems to have brought Ferenczi relative serenity: “My life-style is gradually being organized in a bourgeois fashion,” like that of “every proper husband.” On December 16, Freud declares himself pleased: “I gather with satisfaction that you are leading an idyllically peaceful life as an introduction to one still more comfortable and richer in content.”

A few days later, Ferenczi’s missive must have been a letdown. The fact that he now lives a stable life with Gizella does not mean that he is through with the pangs of desire, nor with his analysis: “Unfortunately, I must again - in absentia -take an hour from - or with - you, since a sad occurrence of the day does not let me sleep, despite sleeping pills. Perhaps this peculiar technique of self-analysis -by letter (i.e., in the constant presence of an imaginary analyst) - is not altogether unsuitable for terminating a treatment.” Indeed, Ferenczi has just received tragic news which concern precisely the seriousness of matters of temporality in the treatment, and of the crucial character of the beginning and the ending of analysis.

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