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Hoffer, P.T. (2014). Of shadows and realities in psychoanalysis: A historical commentary on Ferenczi's conception of trauma. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 23(1):18-22.

(2014). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 23(1):18-22

Of shadows and realities in psychoanalysis: A historical commentary on Ferenczi's conception of trauma

Peter T. Hoffer

In a letter of May 31, 1931, Ferenczi sent Freud a set of “Preliminary Communications” containing the substance of a lecture that he was planning to give at the International Psychoanalytic Congress to be held later that year. Although the Congress was postponed until the following year, the ideas contained in these communications form the basis for the controversial “Confusion of Tongues” paper that Ferenczi delivered, over the protestations of Freud and his closest associates, at the Twelfth International Psychoanalytic Congress in Wiesbaden, Germany, in September 1932. With reference to primary sources, chiefly letters, original papers, and commentaries, my paper will chart the course of the intensifying dispute between Freud and Ferenczi over the conception of psychic reality contained in their respective views on the nature of trauma. Although the controversy over the “Confusion of Tongues” paper marks a crisis in the personal relations between Freud and Ferenczi – and a turning point in the history of psychoanalysis – I will attempt to show that Freud's and Ferenczi's divergent views of trauma are not irreconcilable.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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