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Case, L. (2006). Disappearing and Reviving: Sandor Ferenczi in the History of Psychoanalysis by Andre Haynal M.D. London: H. Karnac Books, 2002; 151 pp.. Fort Da, 12(1):92-96.

(2006). Fort Da, 12(1):92-96

Disappearing and Reviving: Sandor Ferenczi in the History of Psychoanalysis by Andre Haynal M.D. London: H. Karnac Books, 2002; 151 pp.

Reviewed by
Laurie Case, Ph.D.

In August 1932 Sandor Ferenczi went to see Freud, his old friend and one-time analyst, en route to the international psychoanalytic conference in Wiesbaden. Immediately upon his arrival, he insisted on reading aloud the paper he was planning to present at the conference. Freud listened to the end before concluding that it was “stupid, also inadequate” (Gay, 1988, p. 583). He strongly discouraged Ferenczi from presenting the paper and expressed the opinion that publication could serve no good purpose. Freud was especially put off by the emphasis Ferenczi placed on trauma in the etiology of mental illness. An equally dismayed Ferenczi disregarded Freud's advice and presented the paper at Wiesbaden anyway, where it was again greeted with derision by most his colleagues.

That visit was the last face-to-face meeting between the two men. Nine months later Ferenczi died from a neurological condition known as pernicious anemia. However, before his death he did secure the publication of his controversial paper in the International Zeitshrift (1933) — although an English version, translated by Michael Balint, would not appear until 1949. The article was entitled “A Confusion of Tongues Between the Adult and the Child.” A mere six pages long, it contains the first articulation of a half dozen of the most widely debated questions in psychoanalysis today, and is uncannily prescient in its focus on the use of the analyst's countertransference. Yet, until relatively recently, most psychoanalysts knew little of Ferenczi's contributions. He was largely “disappeared” from the official psychoanalytic record after Jones (1957), aided and abetted by Freud's own comments, convinced much of the psychoanalytic community that Ferenczi had gone mad in the last years of his life, and that his innovations in psychoanalytic theory and technique therefore ought to be viewed as the products of a deranged mind.

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