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Gerber, L. (2010). Death/Life: Reflections on Reading Ferenczi. Psychoanal. Perspect., 7(1):153-160.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 7(1):153-160

Death/Life: Reflections on Reading Ferenczi

Lane Gerber, Ph.D., ABPP

Reading ferenczi's correspondences with freud (Dupont, 1994), his Clinical Diary (Dupont, 1988), and some of his papers, especially “The Unwelcome Child and His Death Instinct(Ferenczi, 1929), was a powerful experience for me. As I began reading his letters with Freud and then some biographies of him, I was struck with his emotional presence and outwardly “needy” nature as compared with many other early and later analysts. His warm, affectionate presence and lack of pretense drew me to him. And yet, as I read his correspondence with Freud, I wanted to say to him, “Stop asking for what you're not going to get from Freud. Stop making a pest of yourself. Stop being so needy.” Then I looked at my own reactions, more specifically my reaction to what I read as his “neediness.” Am I talking to him, I wondered, or am I talking to myself? “What is it about this shushing of him and/or of yourself? Who are you protecting and what are you afraid of?”

With these internal conversations in mind, I read on. Something shifted in me. I found myself saying, “That son of a bitch keeps speaking his truth. This is someone who speaks from his heart as well as his mind, and has such great courage. Take a lesson.”


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