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Ferenczi, S. (1930). The Principle of Relaxation and Neocatharsis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 11:428-443.

(1930). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11:428-443

The Principle of Relaxation and Neocatharsis

S. Ferenczi

At the conclusion of this essay many of you will very likely have the impression that I ought not to have called it 'Progress in Technique', seeing that what I say in it might more fittingly be termed retrogressive or reactionary. But I hope that this impression will soon be dispelled by the reflection that even a retrograde movement, if it be in the direction of an earlier tradition, undeservedly abandoned, may advance the truth, and I honestly think that in such a case it is not too paradoxical to put forward an accentuation of our past knowledge as an advance in science. Freud's psycho-analytical researches cover a vast field: they embrace not only the mental life of the individual but group psychology and study of human civilization; recently also he has extended them to the ultimate conception of life and death. As he proceeded to develop a modest psychotherapeutic method into a complete system of psychology and philosophy, it was inevitable that the pioneer of psycho-analysis should concentrate now on this and now on that field of investigation, disregarding everything else for the time being. But of course the withdrawal of attention from facts earlier arrived at by no means implied that he was abandoning or contradicting them. We, his disciples, however, are inclined to cling too literally to Freud's latest pronouncements, to proclaim the most recently discovered to be the sole truth and thus at times to fall into error. My own position in the psycho-analytical movement has made me a kind of cross between a pupil and a teacher, and perhaps this double rôle gives me the right and the ability to point out where we are tending to be one-sided and, without foregoing what is good in the new teaching, to plead that justice shall be done to that which proved its value in days past.

The technical method and the scientific theory of psycho-analysis are so closely and almost indissolubly bound up with one another that I cannot in this paper confine myself to the purely technical side; I must review part of the contents of this scientific doctrine as well.

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