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Simmel, E. (1946). Otto Fenichel. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 27:67-71.

(1946). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 27:67-71

Otto Fenichel

Ernst Simmel

Reluctantly and with a heavy heart did I agree to address this Memorial Meeting to honour our late friend, co-worker and teacher, Otto Fenichel. He died so suddenly—the time that has elapsed is so short and the gap left in our science by his death is so huge and seems so impossible to fill, that I feel at a loss to say anything that would give comfort to us or to the cause he left behind. Only our psycho-analytic knowledge that in mourning for a deceased friend we undergo a psychological process of identification encouraged me to talk to-night.

I think it is necessary, especially for us—who study psycho-analysis, who practise psycho-analysis, who teach psycho-analysis—to undergo this process of identification not only emotionally, but also to remain intellectually and consciously aware of whom we are identifying with and why. As psycho-analysts, our duty is relentless intellectual honesty with ourselves in facing death—our own or that of a friend.

If we allow only our emotions to carry us away, we are in danger of falling prey to natural unconscious ambivalences: of overdoing praising our friend from whom we must part—but at the same time forgetting, repressing his scientific achievements because they indicate the heavy obligation to carry on and to continue where he left off. In an attempt to deny the limitation of our own lives, we might be only too willing to concede immortality to the deceased, in order to share this by way of identification.

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