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Dupont, J. (2002). Excerpts of the Correspondence of Michael and Alice Balint with Olga, Ladislas, and Judith Dormandi. Am. J. Psychoanal., 62(4):359-381.

(2002). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 62(4):359-381

Excerpts of the Correspondence of Michael and Alice Balint with Olga, Ladislas, and Judith Dormandi

Edited by:
Judith Dupont, M.D.

Michael Balint lived in close relationship with the family of his first wife, Alice. Michael met Alice during their studies at the university, in Budapest. Alice was the eldest daughter of Vilma Kovács, a psychoanalyst, analysand, pupil, and then collaborator of Sándor Ferenczi. Michael met with psychoanalysis through Alice and her family. The Balints lived in Mészáros utca 12, Budapest, in a house belonging to Frederic Kovács, Vilma's husband. Alice's sister Olga Dormandi and brother Ferenc Székely-Kovács also lived in the house. On the ground floor was the psychoanalytic ambulatorium directed by Ferenczi, and after his death, by Michael Balint.

This very close family was brutally broken up when the threat of anti-Semitism obliged the Balint family to emigrate to England and the Dormandi family to France. They tried to maintain their close relationship through letters, from the autumn of 1938 until Michael Balint's death in 1970. A big part of Balint's history can be traced through this correspondence with Olga and Ladislas Dormandi, and their daughter Judith.

We can thus follow the Balints' arrival in Manchester, Alice's death, and the deep sorrow and disarray of Michael, left alone with his son in a foreign country. Then, not a single letter could be exchanged between June 1940 and September 1944, during the German occupation of France, when England and France were completely cut off from each other. From then on, the letters show us how Michael Balint progressed in his private and professional life toward a happy marriage and the general recognition of his scientific work.

In the beginning, most of the letters are addressed to Olga Dormandi. Later, when Olga Dormandi begins to travel alot for her work, the letters are adressed mostly to Ladislas Dormandi. At the end, when Judith Dupont-Dormandi became an analyst and started to translate Michael Balint's work, most of the letters available to us are addressed to her. The addressee of the letters will be signalled each time. The letters were written either in English or in Hungarian.

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