edited by Eva Brabant, Ernst Falzeder, and Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch ; under the supervision of André Haynal ; transcribed by Ingeborg Meyer-Palmedo ; translated by Peter T. Hoffer ; introduction by André Haynal
Sandor Ferenczi (1873-1933), a young psychiatrist from Budapest, had studied medicine in Vienna, he had read "The Interpretation of Dreams", and now he was about to meet its author. Ferenczi (1873-1933), 17 years younger than Freud, sent off a note anticipating the pleasure of the older man's acquaintance. Thus began a correspondence destined to flourish over the next 25 years, and which today provides a record of some of the most important insights and developments of psychoanalysis, worked out through the course of a deep and complicated friendship. This volume opens in January 1908 and closes on the eve of World War 1. Letter by letter, "fellowship of life, thoughts, and interests," as Freud came to describe it, unfolds as a passionate exchange of ideas and theories. Ferenczi's contribution to psychoanalysis was, Freud said, "pure gold," and many of the younger man's notions and concepts, proposed in these letters, later made their way into Freud's works on homosexuality, paranoia, trauma, transference, and other topics.
To the two men's mutual scientific interests others were soon added, and their correspondence expanded in richness and complexity, as Ferenczi attempted to work out his personal and professional conflicts under the direction of his devoted, and sometimes critical, elder colleague. Here is Ferenczi's love for Elma, his analysis, and and the daughter of his mistress, his anguish over his matrimonial intentions, his soliciting of Freud's help in sorting out this emotional tangle - a situation that would eventually lead to Ferenczi's own analysis with Freud. Here is Freud's unravelling relationship with Jung, documented through a heated discussion of the events leading up to the final break. Amid these weighty matters of heart and mind, among the psychoanalytic theorizing and playful speculation, we also find the lighter stuff of life, the talk of travel plans and antiquities, gossip about friends and family. In their wealth of personal and scientific detail, these letters give us an intimate picture of psychoanalytic theory being made in the midst of an extraordinary friendship.
Volume 1 of the three-volume Freud-Ferenczi correspondence closes with Freud's letter from Vienna, dated June 28, 1914, to his younger colleague in Budapest: "I am writing under the impression of the surprising murder in Sarajevo, the consequences of which cannot be foreseen". "Now", he continues in a more familiar vein, "to our affairs!" The events of World War I form a canvas for "our affairs" and the exchanges of the two correspondents in Volume 2 (July 1914 through December 1919). Uncertainty pervades these letters: Will Ferenczi be called up? Will food and fuel - and cigar - shortages continue? Will Freud's three enlisted sons and son-in-law come through intact? And, will Freud's "problem-child", psychoanalysis, survive the war? At the same time, a more intimate drama is unfolding: Freud's three-part analysis of Ferenczi in 1914 and 1916 ("finished but not terminated"); Ferenczi's concomitant turmoil over whether to marry his mistress, Gizella Palos, or her daughter, Elma; and the refraction of all these relationships in constantly shifting triads and dyads.
In these, as in other matters, both men display characteristics contradictions and inconsistencies, Freud restrained, Ferenczi more effusive and revealing. Freud, for example, unswervingly favours Ferenczi's marriage to Gizella and views his indecision as "resistance"; yet several years later, commenting on Otto Rank's wife, Freud remarks, "One certainly can't judge in these matters ...on behalf of another". Ferenczi, for his part, reacts to the paternal authority of the "father of psychoanalysis" as an alternately obedient and rebellious son. The letters record the use - and misuse - of analysis and self-analysis and the close interweaving of personal and professional matters in the early history of psychoanalysis. Ferenczi's eventual disagreement with Freud about "head and heart", objective detachment versus subjective involvement and engagement in the analytic relationship - an issue that would emerge more clearly in the ensuing years - is hinted at here. As the decade and the volume end, the correspondents continue their literary conversation, unaware of the events ahead.
This third and final volume of the correspondence between the founder of psychoanalysis and one of his most colourful disciples brings to a close Sandor Ferenczi's life and the story of one of the most important friendships in the history of psychoanalysis. This volume spans a turbulent period, beginning with the controversy over Otto Rank's "The Trauma of Birth" and continuing through Ferenczi's lectures in New York and his involvement in a bitter controversy with American analysts over the practice of lay analysis. On his return from America, Ferenczi's relationship with Freud deteriorated, as Freud became increasingly critical of his theoretical and clinical innovations. Their troubled friendship was further complicated by ill health - Freud's cancer of the jaw and the pernicious anaemia that finally killed Ferenczi in 1933. The controversies between Freud and Ferenczi continue to this day, as psychoanalysts reassess Ferenczi's innovations, and increasingly challenge the allegations of mental illness levelled against him after his death by Freud and Ernest Jones.
The correspondence, now published in its entirety, will deepen understanding of these issues and of the history of psychoanalysis as a whole.