Lou Andreas-Salomé, unwavering
At the end of 1920, Lou Andreas-Salomé, now an analyst, has moved on from her position in 1913, when she thought that Ferenczi’s time must come. But, ever faithful to her trust in the two thinkers she holds in high regard, she is optimistic. Remarkably, she even thinks that very soon Freud will be able to accept without difficulty certain Ferenczian concepts which would complete and enrich his own ideas. Indeed, the recent publication of Beyond the Pleasure Principle could provide the eagerly expected opportunity to finally engage in the contradictory debate on the “death drive.” In a letter to Freud dated December 26, 1920, Lou Andreas-Salomé expresses her scepticism regarding the hypothesis of a death drive: “Of the thoughts of life and death, as they are set forth, I can say, strangely: I agree with you, just as I can say: in this, I disagree with you.” This is her opportunity to plead Ferenczi’s cause, as Emma Jung had once attempted to plead her husband’s cause.
Once again, she draws Freud’s attention to the transferential problem which interferes with Ferenczi’s progression: “Ferenczi, the most philosophical of your ‘sons,’ has never dared to follow his impulse to explore the ‘deep meaning’; as a result, many important things have never been written [...]” Lou makes a list of the occasions when Ferenczi was clearly held back by this problem detected seven years earlier, and she wants to believe that the publication of Beyond the Pleasure Principle could henceforth facilitate the dialogue between the two men. She pleads Ferenczi’s cause: “[...] I am sure this essay must have made him happy, and perhaps he is working on those things [...] so much more now because he is the most deeply loyal and the most genuine of your ‘sons.’” But Lou is wrong.
She seems to be unaware that the personal analysis has completely altered the transferential relation between the two men. This relation can no longer be seen as simply a conflict between a son on his way to finding his path to recognition, and his father’s wish to protect his own achievements.
Ferenczi and Freud know this. The time for reconciliation is past, and that for necessary separation - which is not a breaking off- has come. Future events were to confinn this distinction.
Birth announcement or
farewell letter? (May 1922)
hi his particularly moving letter of May 15, 1922, Ferenczi describes his evolution since the disappointments of the hying year 1919, when the psychoanalytic hopes intended for Budapest were in effect realised in Berlin. Ferenczi is more frank with Freud than ever before, and scrutinises the changes the analysis has produced in their relationship. With some exaltation but without his usual complaints and self-criticism, he starts by saying: “I must wonder myself about the fact that I don’t give in more often to the impulse to write to you.” He is awar e of the transferential aspect of this symptom crystallised by their long and complex analytic relation: “When I think about how great a space your person and the thoughts about common interests take up in my psyche, I am forced to seek more deep-seated reasons for this tardiness.” This negligence contrasts with the excessive output of his letters in the past:
There is no doubt that I also was unable to resist the temptation, as a recompense for everything that I have from you, to “bestow” on you the entire extent of overtender and oversensitive impulses of feeling which are appropriate only in relation to one’s own father.
It is moving to hear Ferenczi express his indebtedness for the enormous knowledge he received from the inventor of psychoanalysis, while showing his embarrassment about the feelings that once characterised his massive transference.
But in the spring of 1922 he has reached a different stage: “The stage in which I now seem to find myself is the - badly belated! - weaning and the attempt to submit to my fate.” Here, the missive becomes a farewell letter. Ferenczi knows that ethically he has no choice left but to pursue his own path, although he already knows that the road will be lonely:
The fact that we now meet so seldom forces me, among other things, also to a kind of intellectual self-reliance. Earlier I was happy about an idea mostly as a favor to you. I could hardly wait for the moment when I could offer you the discovery
The subsiding of the love for the man who seemed to open the doors of a new knowledge to him liberates his thinking and brings the research into focus:
“Gradually, I learned to renounce this pleasure and to occupy myself with science for its own sake, thus, in a more matter-of-fact way.”
To devote himself to science, Ferenczi has to consent to renouncing his earlier transferential position, which brought both comfort and torment. He has things to say and he must be able to put them in writing, even if it means opposing Freud and disturbing his colleagues. He is pleased - and a little sad - to be able to say this: “If I am not greatly mistaken, I am, the way I am now, a much more comfortable collaborator than at that time in Palermo [...] In a word: I have -unfortunately - become older and more sensible.” In fact, Ferenczi’s age is now just about what Freud’s age was when they met. This “farewell letter” brings to an end the subjective duration of an analytic relationship that lasted over ten years. Ferenczi is continuing forward with confidence, but also with some regret: “This matter-of-factness comes to the advantage of the sobriety of my views. But I admit that I think not without sadness about the time when I was that much [stormier], happy-unhappier. ”
After the expression of gratitude, the leave-taking and the admission of sadness, the letter looks to the future. Ferenczi informs Freud of the particular way in which he intends to participate in the development and transmission of psychoanalysis in the future: “To [...] speak about practical things: my intellectual constitution is not unfavorable for work. Now and then I have not bad ideas, but I feel more and more secure in psychoanalytic technique.” This moving letter is also a warning to Freud, who should keep in mind that from now on Ferenczi will not be speaking as the President of the IPA, as a chair holder, or as Director of the Polyclinic, but as an experienced analyst. He has learned from his personal analysis and from his involvement in the analytic organisation. He expresses this clearly in his letter: “in general the tendency toward rounding off, enlarging old experiences and accomplishments, seems to predominate in me.”
In this May 1922 letter, Ferenczi lets Freud see him as a man happy to have recovered his ability to love and to work, and especially an analyst confident that he has acquired, through difficult work in his own analysis, the emotional independence and the freedom to think and to write, which he lacked, despite his prolixity, when he felt himself to be under the scrutiny of the father of psychoanalysis. He declares that he is now ready to defend the singularity of his views on analytic matters, and to voice his opinions in the debates on doctrine which the analytic movement can no longer postpone. No doubt that when he read this declaration Freud must have been glad to surmise the part played in this happy turn of events by the personal analysis Ferenczi had forced him to conduct, and which in recent years had complicated their relationship.