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Haynal, A. (1997). For a Metapsychology of the Psychoanalyst: Sándor Ferenczi's Quest. Psychoanal. Inq., 17(4):437-458.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 17(4):437-458

For a Metapsychology of the Psychoanalyst: Sándor Ferenczi's Quest

André Haynal, M.D.


“The young child is familiar with much knowledge … that later becomes buried by the forces of repression” (Ferenczi, 1923 [257]p. 350). Small children are often amusing because they put into words—sometimes a bit awkwardly—what they (still) perceive without repressing; adults for whom the same material has already been repressed then receive their words as a kind of revelation. The effect can either be the amusement of liberation—a sort of “aha!” experience—or, because of their own repression, one that creates tension and even hostility: “How stupid!” or “One doesn't say things like that!” which corresponds to an intention to reinforce the adult's repression and at the same time to inculcate in the child the “do-not-say,” indeed the “do-not-think.”

“Wise baby”—he himself used the English term in the German text (Ferenczi, 1923 [257] and Ferenczi, 1932 [308]p. 274)—is what Ferenczi was to remain all his life. In that, he differed from his fellow pioneers and even from his master, Freud.

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