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Nachin, C. (2001). From ‘Tact’ in Ferenczi to ‘Resonance’ in Nicolas Abraham. Psychoanal. Hist., 3(2):171-177.

(2001). Psychoanalysis and History, 3(2):171-177

From ‘Tact’ in Ferenczi to ‘Resonance’ in Nicolas Abraham

Claude Nachin

The history of psychoanalytical clinical work, although it can be found in published form, is in fact more of an underground history in the sense that the majority of analysts are extremely discreet about their actual work practices. Incidentally, in this field many could apply to themselves the expression ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. If Ferenczi has provoked so much hatred, it is because he had the confidence to open his research laboratory to his colleagues, to show them his experimentations, his trials and errors, resulting in a sharpness which for a long time has remained unequalled.

It is to his pupil and friend Michael Balint that we owe the continuation and development of Ferenczi's work and, in particular, the elaboration of his notion of ‘tact’. In French, tact refers to the sense of touch and, from the psychological point of view, the sense of what is appropriate or acceptable. In English, we also find these same two meanings. In German, der Taktrefers to musical tempo and rhythm and therefore to the sense of hearing, though it also has the same psychological meaning as in the other two languages, with ‘having a sense of time’ coming back to the idea of savoir-vivre and discretion. The Hungarian language puts the accent, as does German, on music. ‘Resonance’ signifies an increase in the duration and intensity of sound and is, as such, related to the German Takt. From a psychological perspective it means the effect, or echo, produced in the mind and in the heart, in particular, by poetry and music.

The problem of tact in analysis appeared in the work of Ferenczi in 1927 in a lecture given at the Innsbruck Congress on ‘The problem of the termination of the analysis’ about the subject of those interventions which focus on the patients’ extraverbal language and unusual bodily communications. In particular, Ferenczi tells us that one cannot justifiably terminate an analysis without having tackled first the problem of the patient's attitudes, behavioural oddities and peculiar mannerisms.

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