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Esman, A.H. (1991). The Technique at Issue: Controversies in Psychoanalysis from Freud and Ferenczi to Michael Bálint: By André Haynal, translated by Elizabeth Holder, Preface by Daniel N. Stern. London: Karnac, 1988, xix + 201 pp., £13.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:290-292.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:290-292

The Technique at Issue: Controversies in Psychoanalysis from Freud and Ferenczi to Michael Bálint: By André Haynal, translated by Elizabeth Holder, Preface by Daniel N. Stern. London: Karnac, 1988, xix + 201 pp., £13.95.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman, M.D.

Recently, leading figures in the international psychoanalytic community have declared, in an ecumenical spirit, that despite their theoretical differences analysts of various persuasions appear to converge on the technical approach to patients in the clinical situation. Haynal, a Hungarian physician who trained in psychoanalysis and practices in Geneva, sees things rather differently, and sets forth in this book his view of the significant divergences in technique between those loyal to the Viennese tradition and those who have followed the lines laid down by Sandor Ferenczi and his students—particularly Michael Balint. In doing so, he clearly seeks to rehabilitate Ferenczi from the obloquy imposed on him by Ernest Jones in his Freud biography.

Succinctly put, Haynal suggests that Freud favored "the concept of Einsicht, the 'insight' of the Age of Enlightenment, while Ferenczi opted for Erlebnisse, or genuine experiences" (p. 18). Ferenczi, reacting in some measure to his disappointment with his own analytic experience with Freud, "always considered that the analyst should be active" (p. 21). At the same time, he emphasized the need for the analyst always to be aware of his own contribution to the analytic exchange; it was he who first underscored the central role of empathy in psychoanalytic technique, and with it the "incorporation of subjectivity into analytic thinking" (p. 24). Unlike Freud, who was explicit about his distaste for working with severely disturbed or regressed patients, Ferenczi eagerly undertook to treat them and to follow them into their regressed states, even to the extent of allowing physical contact (including the famous kisses exchanged with Clara Thompson at the end of each session).

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