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Bonomi, C. (1999). Flight Into Sanity: Jones'S Allegation Of Ferenczi'S Mental Deterioration Reconsidered. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(3):507-542.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(3):507-542

Flight Into Sanity: Jones'S Allegation Of Ferenczi'S Mental Deterioration Reconsidered

Carlo Bonomi

In ‘The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud’, Volume III, Ernest Jones explained Ferenczi's final contributions as the product of a mental deterioration based on a progressive psychosis. Erich Fromm collected various testimonies by witnesses of Ferenczi's last years, all contrasting with Jones's assertions, and challenged Jones's manner of writing history. However, since Fromm was himself a dissident, and his witnesses were pupils, relatives or friends of Ferenczi's, they were discarded as ‘partisans’. The present study aims at reconsidering the question of Ferenczi's insanity on the basis of many unpublished documents. The consulted documents do not support Jones's allegation of Ferenczi's insanity. At the same time, they show that Jones's allegation was not a one-man fabrication, but reflected a shared belief, eliciting many questions about the nature of this belief, the lack of scrutiny that characterised its spreading, and its possible function within the psychoanalytic community. It is suggested that Ferenczi's personality and teaching, especially his emphasis on the need to accept the patient's criticism, contrasted with the dominant conception of psychoanalysis, based on the analyst's infallibility.

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