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Blum, H.P. (1994). The Confusion of Tongues and Psychic Trauma. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:871-882.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:871-882

The Confusion of Tongues and Psychic Trauma

Harold P. Blum


'The confusion of tongues' characterised the polarised dimensions of the closing Ferenczi/Freud communication, and extended to problems of psychoanalytic formulation and publication. There were manifest and latent issues which remain of historic importance. Ferenczi was dying and assumed Freud was dying when he wrote this classic essay, to relevant to contemporary psychoanalytic thought and controversy. Denying and sometimes acknowledging his progressive, fatal illness, Ferenczi made enduring contributions to the understanding of child abuse and trauma while severely traumatised. Concepts of trauma and countertransference were amplified and expanded. Freud remained remarkably creative while physically declining with oral cancer; Ferenczi manifested progressive and regressive trends, fostering both sublimated innovation and wild analysis. Psychoanalysts tended to avoid, for half a century, confronting the problems of the ill, impaired, and dying analyst. The clarification of 'The confusion of tongues' continues in contemporary psychoanalytic discussion and debate. The paper presaged a widened interest in the analyst's analysing functions, unconscious communication, countertransference, and the interplay of reality and fantasy inside and outside the psychoanalytic situation.

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