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Rachman, A.W. (1989). Confusion of Tongues: The Ferenczian Metaphor for Childhood Seduction and Emotional Trauma. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 17(2):181-205.

(1989). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 17(2):181-205

Confusion of Tongues: The Ferenczian Metaphor for Childhood Seduction and Emotional Trauma

Arnold WM. Rachman, Ph.D.

I. Ferenczi's Last Clinical Presentation: The Confusion of Tongues Paper

Ferenczi's clinical presentation was entitled “The Confusion of Tongues Between Children and Adults: The Language of Tenderness and Passion.” This paper was the inaugural presentation at the 12th International Psychoanalytic Congress, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 4, 1932. The event was chronicled at the time:

Ferenczi opened the Congress with his paper. Freud was too sick to attend but many of the leading analysts of the time were there: Anna Freud, Federn, Alexander, Jekels, Jones, de Groot, Brunswick, Simmel, Harnick, Bonaparte, Sterba, Reck, Balint, Deutsch, Rado, Weiss, Odrir, Glover, Roheim, Menninger, de Sausseiere. (Masson, 1984, p. 15)

Controversy surrounded this paper before it was written, as well as when it was presented:

Their response to the paper was uniformly negative. These senior analysts, the “bearers of the ring,” were of the opinion that views such as those expressed in the paper should not be circulated more widely than was absolutely necessary, that the dissemination of such views constituted a danger to society. (Masson, 1984, pp. 150-151)

The “Confusion of Tongues” paper raised enormous issues of a professional, personal, and social nature for psychoanalysis, Ferenczi, and the psychoanalytic community.

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