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Gifford, S. (1985). 'Repression' or Sea-Change—Fenichel's Rundbriefe and the 'Political Analysts' of the 1930's. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:265-271.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:265-271

'Repression' or Sea-Change—Fenichel's Rundbriefe and the 'Political Analysts' of the 1930's

Sanford Gifford

This is primarily a review of Russell Jacoby's recent book (1983), which provides fascinating glimpses of Fenichel's unpublished Rundbriefe, an amazing correspondence conducted almost single-handedly from 1932 to 1945. Despite its unfortunate title, The Repression of Psychoanalysis, this short, scholarly but highly readable book has many virtues, in reminding us of a more glorious past, as well as some debatable interpretations of changes in the analytic movement since the Second World War. Jacoby recalls our European forebears at a time when their numbers have dwindled and a new generation of analysts is too young to have known them as teachers. Above all he reminds us of a youthful, revolutionary era in psychoanalysis when the movement was small and its strongest appeal was to intellectual rebels of all kinds. First Jacoby chronicles this golden age of analysis in the Vienna and Berlin of the 1920s and '30s, in broad strokes but with an impressive command of cultural and historical detail, much of it unfamiliar to young American analysts. Then he comes to the principal theme of his book, the flight of German-speaking analysts from Nazi Europe and the complex transformation of analysis in this country that Stuart Hughes has called The Sea-Change(1975). Whether one welcomes or deplores this seemingly inevitable metamorphosis, in which a heady European wine was diluted into a mass-produced American blend, the process contained many contradictory elements. Jacoby's most valuable contribution is his use of Fenichel, and the small circle of 'political analysts' who shared his Rundbriefe, as exemplary figures in illustrating the Americanization and embourgeoisement of analysis.

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