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Mitchell, S.A. (1995). The Legacy Of Sandor Ferenczi. Edited by Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1993, 294 pp., $43.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:228-231.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:228-231

The Legacy Of Sandor Ferenczi. Edited by Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1993, 294 pp., $43.95.

Review by:
Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

In his occasional forays into the psychology of groups and cultures, Freud demonstrated that collectives and individuals have a lot in common, that the dynamics of groups are often the psychodynamics of the person writ large. Groups, like individuals, have life spans and developmental histories. The identities of subcultures and movements, including the psychoanalytic movement, are forged, transformed, and reaffirmed through processes similar to those that shape individual selves: splitting, idealization, villainization, disillusionment, reparation, and so on. As with individuals, a movement's potential for maturation and further growth is often enhanced through self-reflection and understanding.

These considerations make The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi an extremely timely and important book for the psychoanalytic field today. The idealization of Freud was for many decades the central dynamic feature of the psychoanalytic group self, and that idealization has come under enormous strain. The release of historical documents hitherto withheld, the appearance of revisionist histories and detective work, and a greater understanding of the science and culture of Freud's time and the ways in which Freud fit into it—these factors have all made it increasingly difficult for psychoanalysts today to maintain the carefully crafted image that Freud and his contemporaries created for the founder of psychoanalysis. And the simple development of new ideas, fresh perspectives, and novel problems—in short, the movement of psychoanalytic thinking beyond Freud's conceptualization—all this too has profoundly challenged the idealization of Freud at the heart of the psychoanalytic identity.

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