The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi

By Chessick, Richard D. | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi


Chessick, Richard D., American Journal of Psychotherapy


ERNST FALZEDER AND EVA BRABANT WITH THE COLLABORATION OF PATRIZIA GIAMPIERI-DEUTSCH (EDS.): The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi. Volume 2, pp. 1914-1919. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996, 395 pp., $46.95, ISBN 0-674-17419-4.

This sad, poignant, and gripping collection of the correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi during World War I is as fascinating and revealing a publication as one can imagine. Freud is often criticized for having blundered badly into a boundary crossing, demanding that Ferenczi choose between the two women he "loved" (a mother and her daughter, both of whom were his analysands!) by marrying the mother, who was eight years older than Ferenczi. This occurred at the same time Ferenczi was putatively an analysand of Freud's, having experienced some short periods on the couch representing this "psychoanalysis" that Freud considered "finished, not terminated, but rather broken off because of unfavorable circumstances" (p. 153).

The personalities of the two correspondents emerge dramatically in their letters. Ferenczi is mercurial, unstable, passionate and neurotic. He addresses Freud as "Dear Professor"; Freud in turn writes to him as "Dear Friend." Freud is solid, stable and somewhat gloomy, as well as consistent, mature, and dedicated. His intense internal struggle to maintain a certain analytic distance from Ferenczi is quite manifest, while at the same time his need for the friendship and his appreciation for Ferenczi's warmth and devotion to him is apparent.

All this occurs against the background of being on the losing side in World War I, with the miseries and frustrations that obviously entailed. Freud at one point had three sons in uniform and was very much worried about each of them; Ferenczi's career was continually disrupted by calls to serve as a military physician, a disruption that made it almost impossible for him to dedicate himself to psychoanalysis. He was so determined to continue this dedication that he even attempted to analyze his commanding officer while they were both on horseback, the first instance, as he puts it, of "hippic" psychoanalysis (p. 50).

Given the background of this terrible war it is easier to empathize with the struggles of both Freud and Ferenczi to maintain some kind of stability and to continue a very human relationship that was sometimes one of an analyst and patient and sometimes one of an older with a younger friend. Freud has been much criticized for this vacillation, but without it I am certain that both parties would have suffered greatly, and Ferenczi, the patient, most of all. Probably Freud's most glaring mistake was to write directly to Ferenczi's intended betrothed, conveying an offer of marriage at Ferenczi's request.

In the outstanding introduction to this book by Axel Hoffer, it is suggested that Freud had, at least, an unconscious attraction to Ferenczi's betrothed himself, which might account for Freud's continual pressure on Ferenczi to marry her. This may or may not be so, but it does raise the issue of the status of Martha, Freud's wife. She is rarely referred to in this almost 400 page volume of correspondence, and when she is mentioned, it is in a rather disparaging manner by Freud, characterizing her as essentially a fuss-budget who has little tolerance of discomfort. For example, Freud writes, "I don't dare bring my wife to an unknown second- or third-rate Hungarian spa. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.