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Light and shadow

The political situation in Hungary is unstable, but the promises of official recognition for psychoanalysis seem to be coming tine. They brighten the spring, but, at the same time, there is concern about the physical and psychic health of Anton Freund, the generous donator who has become Ferenczi’s most valuable ally in the enterprise that was to make Budapest, as Freud said, the “center” of the analytic movement which was now enjoying a revival with the return of peace.

On April 1, Freud informed Ferenczi that Freund was returning to Budapest after a stay in Vienna dedicated to his analysis: “In a few weeks a member of your Society will be cured of his excursion into psychosis and will return to you as a halfway analysed neurotic, Anton Freund. Let us hope he is also well in other respects.”

On April 4, Ferenczi cautiously enumerates a series of accomplishments:

The chances for psychoanalysis “fluctuant necmergentur.” Today I was visited by 1) a delegation of students who want to found a psychoanalytic society of medical students. I intend to encourage them. 2) The chief physician of the Workers’ Health Service, who wants to set up an outpatient department, that is to say, put it at the disposal of the university [...] 4) In the name of someone empowered by the people I was invited to claim a requisitioned private sanatorium for the psychoanalytic institute.

But along with these promising but not absolutely certain prospects, there was less fortunate development listed by Ferenczi: the rumour of the nomination of two enemies of psychoanalysis, entrusted with reorganising the teaching of neurology. Nevertheless, these tenuous promises were enough to hope that favourable conditions would allow the creation, in Budapest, of an Institute of Psychoanalysis - the first - with Ferenczi as its Director, responsible for its analytic orientation. It was with this Hungarian context in mind that Freud wrote the article “Should Psychoanalysis Be Taught at Universities?” On April 5, Ferenczi admits in the post-scriptum of his letter that he has taken a considerable liberty: “I permitted myself (for tactical reasons), to interpose a little sentence into your little essay on psychoanalytic training. Something like: ‘A psychiatric section would be used for psychoanalytic investigation on the psychoses.”' Thus, Ferenczi felt free, once his analysis was over, and thanks to the success of the Budapest Congress, to take a position that would have major consequences for psychoanalysis. Ferenczi, like Lacan would later, thought it possible to apply analytic therapy to the psychoses, as he himself had already done; but Freud did not agree. On April 13, Ferenczi wrote that he continued to receive promising propositions:

Psychoanalysis is being courted on all sides; it is costing an effort to defend myself against the solicitations. But yesterday I was unable to avoid a direct invitation to take over a section of a state hospital. In the new era they want to commtmize all medical practice: private practice will cease completely. Psychoanalysis will have to devote itself to hospital material.

But Freund’s state of health throws a shadow on these happy prospects: “Toni is quite hypochondriacal again. He has strong pains, which are localized in the back and the liver area, he turns more and more to being sick.”

Ferenczi’s letter dated April 15 opens with news about Freud’s analysand:

First, something about Toni’s case: Since the moment at which the possibility of your coming here emerged, I stopped conducting thoroughgoing analytic negotiations with him - he is also completely primed for your coming. If you are impeded, then I can still jump in. Incidentally, we haven’t yet actually gotten into the proper analytic mood at all.

Ferenczi is reminding Freud of Anton’s very strong transferential dependence.

Very busy with the political context to be established for psychoanalysis, and very concerned about the analytic treatment of their friend, Ferenczi had not seen Freud since the Budapest Congress six months earlier. He is very frank about the painful weight of this isolation which now goes hand in hand with his independence:

It has been a frightfully long time since we talked to each other - and now, of all times, when every day is an eternity! I am loaded with personal and material questions. The separation, which has lasted too long, has made the tension grow excessively. I doubt whether we will be able to discuss everything properly here.

On April 20, Freud encourages the analytic work Ferenczi is doing with Toni, but is more reserved about the possibility that psychoanalysis could be granted recognition by government agencies. He is not caught up in Ferenczi’s enthusiasm: “Restraint, we are not suited for any kind of official existence, we need our independence on all sides [...] We are and remain nonpartisan except for one thing: to investigate and to help.” Freud wants to preserve, for each of them, the freedom to pursue his own research, but he also values the magic of the exchanges possible between men looking for the truth: “I will also miss the chance to see you. I have the same need for exchanging thoughts that you express, and for that reason I have hatched the plan that you should accompany Toni to Vienna.” On March 21,1919, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed.

The letter Ferenczi wrote Freud on April 21 makes it clear that he did not adopt the restraint Freud had counselled:

Owing to the intervention of a friend, who has influence in such matters, we succeeded in having the decision go along very favorable lines. Affairs of the university are also stirring. Dr. Radd was appointed an assistant at the

Moravcsik Clinic, and Fräulein Dr. Revesz became a regular trainee there [.. .]! was offered a nice hospital section, which I will accept.

Ferenczi ends his letter on a more personal note: “My private affairs require a special letter, which I won’t be able to write until tomorrow.” And he adds a post-scriptum about Toni: “In reality, it has to do with a relapse of his illness!!” meaning his physical illness.

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