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Reverzy, C. Suied, B. (2002). Three Testimonies about Meeting Michael Balint and His Ideas. Am. J. Psychoanal., 62(4):347-353.
(2002). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 62(4):347-353
Three Testimonies about Meeting Michael Balint and His Ideas
Catherine Reverzy and Bernard Suied
Pierre Benoît was a general practitioner who became a psychoanalyst without abandoning completely his medical practice. He was the family doctor of the Dormandi family and had several occasions to meet and have discussions with Michael Balint. Dr. Benoît was very much interested in the Balint groups; he was leader of one of them, but not without trying to go further. Most of his ideas are expressed in a special number of the review Le Coq-Hèron n 95. This short testimony indicates in what direction he develops his thoughts. Dr. Benoît submitted his contribution shortly before his death on September 19, 2001.
A Meeting with Michael Balint
This is the account of my recollection of one of my meetings with Balint. This recollection may initiate some reflection about the object of the Balint method going beyond what is generally assigned to it: the analysis of the doctor-patient relationship.
It is the recollection of a meeting with Balint, Mrs. Balint, Ginette and Emile Raimbaud, Marie-Ange and Jacques Gendrot, Sapir, and myself. The conversation run about the review of Balint's famous book (The Doctor, His Patient and the Illness, 1957), just published in French.
Seizing the opportunity of a moment of silence, Jacques Gendrot addressed a question to Balint: “Please sir, why in your book you always talk about the Psychiatrist and not the Psychoanalyst as the leader of the group; after all, your reference is not psychiatry but actually psychoanalysis.” A long and uneasy silence followed, and it was Mrs. Balint who broke it, saying something like: “Since my husband does not answer, I will give an answer: the fact is that my husband does not really like psychoanalysts.” Balint added approvingly: “But after all, I have the perfect right to have an unconscious, and as you know, my father was a general practitioner.” Soon after this exchange we came back to the settling of the business affairs of the fledgling Balint movement.
Everybody can go on thinking about the implications of this anecdote.
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