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Berman, E. (2004). Sándor, Gizella, Elma: A biographical journey. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):489-520.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):489-520

Sándor, Gizella, Elma: A biographical journey

Emanuel Berman

In recent years, particularly with the publication of the Freud-Ferenczi correspondence, it has become clear that the rich theoretical dialogue between Freud and Ferenczi, a dialogue that may be seen as constitutive for psychoanalytic discourse in recent decades, was intensely intertwined with their complex personal relationship. Two women—Gizella Pálos, who eventually became Ferenczi's wife, and her daughter Elma, who was both Ferenczi's and Freud's analysand, and with whom Ferenczi fell in love—played a crucial role in shaping the Freud—Ferenczi relationship. Their own voices, however, have so far been barely heard. This paper is a preliminary report of a biographical research project which aims to complete the puzzle, by getting to know better Gizella, Elma and their family, with the help of numerous original sources, many of them unpublished till now. The emerging picture tends to confirm Ferenczi's initial view of Elma as a person of depth and integrity, rather than Freud's view of her as fundamentally disturbed; countertransference-love, it is suggested, may have facilitated fuller perception rather than clouding it. The question of the impact of Elma's ‘confusion of tongues’ with Ferenczi and with Freud on her subsequent life is also discussed.

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