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Ross, J.M. (1995). The Fate Of Relatives And Colleagues In The Aftermath Of Boundary Violations. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:959-961.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:959-961

The Fate Of Relatives And Colleagues In The Aftermath Of Boundary Violations

John Munder Ross

At the beginning of his now notorious “The Unknown Freud,” New York Review of Books essayist Frederick Crews names names in the Emma Eckstein and Horace Frink debacles, two of the most obvious and scandalous boundary violations in Freud's history and thus that of psychoanalysis. Most modern analysts have been made aware, belatedly but with no uncertainty by now, of the details of these rare lapses. Both episodes begin with a sort of supervisory hubris—Fliess's with Freud, Freud's with his patient Frink—and end in disaster or near disaster for the patients involved. In the latter of these transgressions, Frink's marriage to his rich patient Angelika Bijur at the advice of an uncharacteristically avaricious Freud, the calamities extended beyond the consulting room and the dyad of analyst and analysand. Frink, pushed forward by Freud to become twice in the 1920s the New York Psychoanalytic Society's president, sank into a psychotic depression after his patient bride quickly divorced him. While he made repeated suicide attempts, both his wife and his patient's first husband, devastated by the betrayals, deteriorated and died.

There are many other stories like this one, as we sadly know—mostly unwritten stories in which the spouses of transgressing analysts and analysands plunge into despair and the alcoholism and suicidality that so often accompany overwhelming loss and disillusionment. But what of the impressionable and vulnerable children of such parents, the parents who, once esteemed and trusted, have cast themselves into the role of pariah or into simple oblivion? About them and the impact on their lives little has been chronicled.

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