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Balint, M. (1958). Sandor Ferenczi's Last Years. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 39:68.

(1958). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39:68

Sandor Ferenczi's Last Years

Michael Balint


The publication of the third volume of Dr. Jones's great Freud Biography created an awkward situation for me, Ferenczi's literary executor.

In this volume Dr. Jones expresses rather strong views about Ferenczi's mental state, especially during the last years of his life, diagnosing it as a kind of slowly developing paranoia, with delusions and homicidal impulses in its final phase. Using his diagnosis as a basis, he interprets Ferenczi's scientific publications on the one hand, and his participation in the analytic movement on the other, in this sense.

Undoubtedly Ferenczi's last period, which may be taken as having started with the Genitaltheorie (Thalassa) and the book written jointly with Rank, the Entwicklungsziele (Developmental Aims) is most controversial. It was during these years that Ferenczi advanced a number of new ideas which were felt at that time to be fantastic, revolutionary, exaggerated, without proper foundation, and so on. Moreover, on several occasions he himself had to withdraw or modify one or the other of the ideas just proposed, and it was also widely known that Freud adopted a rather critical attitude towards many—though far from all—of them.

All this created a highly unfavourable aura which has made exceedingly difficult any proper re-evaluation of what was good and of lasting value among Ferenczi's ideas.

If Dr. Jones's views about Ferenczi's mental state were now to remain unchallenged by me, who had made the whole Freud-Ferenczi correspondence available for the Biography, the impression might be created that I, Ferenczi's literary executor, one of his pupils and a close friend, were in agreement with them.

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