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Poster, M.F. (2009). Ferenczi and Groddeck: Simpatico: Roots of a Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 69(3):195-206.

(2009). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 69(3):195-206

Ferenczi and Groddeck: Simpatico: Roots of a Paradigm Shift in Psychoanalysis

Mark F. Poster, M.D.

Sigmund Freud introduced Sandor Ferenczi to Georg Groddeck in 1917. The warm personal friendship that these two men shared for the rest of their lives was a breeding ground for many of their respective theoretical and clinical contributions. 1923 was a schismatic year in the history of psychoanalysis. Freud's appropriation of Groddeck's Das Es and its adaptation to Heinroth's tri-partite model (Freud, 1923; Poster, 1997) marked the beginning of Ego psychology. Almost simultaneously there appeared Groddeck's Book of the It (Groddeck, 1923), together with Rank and Ferenczi's The Development of Psychoanalysis (Rank and Ferenczi, 1924), and Ferenczi's Thalassa (Ferenczi, 1924). These three seminal publications set the stage for a paradigm shift (Hoffer, 2008; Rudnytsky, 2002). They were the forerunner of later developments in object relations, self-psychology, interpersonal and relational psychoanalysis. Taken together, the contributions of Groddeck and Ferenczi and Rank reinvigorated psychoanalysis, Freud's baby, with “the constructive aspect” that Groddeck told Freud had been lost in Freud's re-definition of Das Es (Groddeck, 1977, p. 13). Each of these pioneers stimulated the thinking of the others. Always an independent thinker, Groddeck was welcomed into the psychoanalytic circle by both Freud and Ferenczi. Suffering under the “crushing paternal(ism)” of Freud, Ferenczi was supported by Groddeck to carry out his own clinical experiments. Preoccupied with his own legacy and intolerant of dissent, Freud was able to maintain cordial contact with these two creative spirits and allow them to modify his own ideas.

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