Desktop version

Home arrow Psychology

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Nostalgia, nostalgia

Ferenczi is now a man whose recent past has brought many losses. He gave up Elma, he lost his professorship and the presidency of the IPA, his country has sunk into chaos, and his dream of a polyclinic housing a training institute was destroyed. Budapest would not become the centre of the analytic movement. Ferenczi would be unable to introduce into the psychoanalytic movement the new orientation focusing on “analytic activity” as it is carried out in daily practice. But other losses are even more painful for him. Not only will the Lamarck project with Freud be set aside, but Ferenczi has lost the valuable support he had found in Freund. He continues his correspondence with Freud, he is kept informed, the intellectual exchanges go on, but the passion is gone.

Returning from a trip to Vienna at the end of March 1920, Ferenczi makes a comment about “group psychology,” a text Freud had discussed with him. On April 18, 1920, he comes back again to the question of ambivalence as presented by Freud - an important theoretical notion, but not devoid of certain transfer-ential aspects. Behind the son’s ambivalence towards the father, there is, in the transference - as both men well know - the ambivalence of the analysand towards the analyst. In his polite commentary, Ferenczi discretely refers Freud to an intuition he had been the first to formulate in 1909, in “Introjection and Transference” his first analytic article. In it, he was differentiating between a paternal act of hypnosis, through intimidation and fear, and a maternal act, producing hypnosis through tenderness and persuasion. In his letter to Freud in April 1920, Ferenczi goes back to his hypothesis, to further develop Freud’s reflection on ambivalence:

The hostile impulse toward the father is an attempt to realize the ideal of becoming a father; the subordinating impulse to obedience (that of suggestibility in the tendency on which “paternal hypnosis” is based), would be the more primitive (gr oup) mode of reaction.

On April 22, Freud politely acknowledges receipt of Ferenczi’s letter: “Thanks for your announcements of works; I will be mindful of your theoretical stimulation.” But he did no such thing, only mentioning in passing, in the completed version of his text on groups, the notion of introjection introduced earlier by Ferenczi, who was duly named. But nothing was said about Ferenczi’s distinction between paternal and maternal hypnosis. Freud’s text only considered the relation to the figure of the father - that based on the Oedipal myth, and found in Totem and Taboo. For his part, Ferenczi did not set aside his intuition, formulated prior to his personal analysis; he chose to make it part of his clinical approach to transference.

Althortgh he had already done so, after his personal experience with transference on Freud’s couch in Vienna, he relied on this hypothesis even more. We believe this is what he is pointing out to his former analyst, who is also still a colleague. By discussing the distinction between the two types of hypnoses, he is pointing out to Freud that for the analysand negative transference is also a means of affirming his identity, a defence against the effects of potential paternal hypnosis. And, just as before, in conducting the analysis and overseeing the life of the movement, Freud does not hesitate to impose his own ideas and to trse a threatening tone.

Freud seems not to pay attention to Ferenczi’s theoretical comment, and not to notice its transferential aspect - which is nevertheless radical, given that it concerns the very nature of negative transference as it manifests itself repeatedly in the analytic process. This unintentional dismissal makes it obvious that the two men, whether they know it or not, are no longer on the same path, and each will have to follow his own road in the future. Thus, they will continue to advance, separately, on the two banks of the same river, psychoanalysis, whose development and transmission remains a priority for both of them. But after the analysis, their relationship camrot return to what it was before, despite the nostalgia each of them may feel.

The letters the two men exchange now are cordial, but somewhat limited to news about the movement and to the solitary work in which each one is engaged; their tone has changed. Ferenczi’s letters have lost their old enthusiasm, and the passionate quest for personal analysis is no longer there. Freud, while happy to see what he considers a welcome liberation from transferential dependence in Ferenczi, is eager to renew work and friendship ties with the man who has finally become a worthy peer, Freud’s most faithful companion. In fact, Freud, who used to be irr itated with Ferenczi’s analytic furor and the furnace of transference that went with it, now seems concerned, not to say regretful, that they have disappeared or lessened.

As for Ferenczi, deprived of what gave him solidity and nourished his vision, his task is more difficult. His personal quest will now have to shift and be pursued elsewhere and differently.

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics