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Deri, S. (1990). Great Representatives of Hungarian Psychiatry: Balint, Ferenczi, Hermann, and Szondi. Psychoanal. Rev., 77(4):491-501.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Review, 77(4):491-501

Great Representatives of Hungarian Psychiatry: Balint, Ferenczi, Hermann, and Szondi

Susan Deri

Even in the early history of psychoanalysis, Freud's followers in Vienna and in Budapest took different directions. Hungarian scientific interest led to a focus on the very beginning of life. For Szondi, this meant going back to the influence of the genes. For Ferenczi, it meant going back to existence in the amniotic fluid. Hermann's and Balint's interests focused on the earliest mother-infant relationship.

A distinctive feature among these theorists was that, writing as early as the twenties, none of them accepted the stage of objectless primary narcissism. All of them, long before object-relations theory was born, held that life begins with a relationship between infant and mother. The infant's primary instinctual needs and urges are considered to be aiming at contact with the mother. This is in contrast to Freud's and the Viennese school's contention that the newborn's need to reduce pain is caused by the accumulation of instinctual tension in the libidinously charged organs. For the Hungarians partial instincts are not focused upon, and the primacy of the oral drive is denied. It is the whole infant's striving for contact with, or “primary love” for, mother that is the primary phase of psychic development. The infant was seen as an active as well as reactive organism whose character develops in response to the constant interplay between himself/herself and the caretaking environment. This view puts the origin of ego development and character formation in the matrix of the earliest mother-child relationship (ideas very close to those later developed by Winnicott).

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