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The Clinical Diary of Sandor Ferenczi.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: July 2000 - Volume 188 - Issue 7 - p 474
Briefly Noted

Dupont, Judith, Ed. The Clinical Diary of Sandor Ferenczi. Trans. By Michael Balint and Nicola Zarday Jackson. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. xxvii + 227 pp. Paperback $17.50

This diary of the Hungarian psychoanalyst and intimate associate of Sigmund Freud, Sandor Ferenczi (1873-1933), was translated by Michael Balint in 1969 but deemed inappropriate for publication-even though he omitted several paragraphs as too revealing, including two which were critical of Freud. Balint had hoped for it to appear simultaneously with a volume of the Freud-Ferenciz correspondence, considering each of the texts to help clarify and complete the other. However, without waiting for the correspondence, the complete diary was edited by Parisian psychoanalyst, Judith Dupont, and finally published in Paris in 1985; its English translation was first printed in the U.S. in 1988. In Dupont's introduction, she quotes some of the correspondence as it complements the diary.

This volume deserves mention here because of the increasing contemporary interest in Ferenczi's views, including the creative and unorthodox elaborations of psychoanalytic (or therapeutic) technique that sometimes brought him into conflict with Freud and his other followers. Ferenczi was especially concerned with Freud's lack of interest in the therapeutic aspects of psychoanalysis.

Ferenczi deals with a very wide range of topics in the context of clinical observations on patients he was treating. However there are three major themes to which he returns repeatedly. First is the view that all psychological illness has a "traumatic-hysterical" basis (ignored by a psychoanalytic overemphasis on ego-psychology). His discussions of aggressors/victimizers and victims will not be unfamiliar to today's students of the subject. He is more exceptional, however, in his emphasis on traumas inflicted on patients by the hypocrisy of the professional attitudes of analysts, summarized by Dupont as "their denial of countertransferential feelings that are uncomfortable or contrary to their ethics" (p. xix). The diary gives a full account of how the victim of over-whelming trauma can survive. His elaborations reflected not only his experience as an analyst and analysand, but as a member of the analytic community who was not totally comfortable with its developing dogmatism. His advocacy of therapeutic measures deviating from those supported by Freud seems to have led to Ernest Jones's widely repeated allegations that he was becoming mentally ill in the last 3 years of his life. However, this diary appears to be the product of a thinker in full control of his faculties.

Second is an emphasis on the mutual analysis that must take place in any successful treatment. This idea fits those of some contemporary therapists in its emphasis on self-disclosure and therapist activity-classically regarded as "nonanalytic." However, Ferenczi went much farther in requiring himself to acquaint his patients with his own weaknesses and feelings so that they could better assess their relationship with him. The development of this position and the difficulties which he encountered in its pursuit are described via the clinical observations of the diary. Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, he arrived at a critique of this method and an understanding of its limitations.

Third, are his specific criticisms of Freud and his analyses of his own relationship with him. The diary reveals in particular his efforts to come to grip with his hostile, ambivalent and dependent transference to Freud. As Dupont points out, he believed that Freud's self-analysis had not been taken far enough. Indeed, according to Ferenczi, "self-analysis never can be ... [for it] is an eminently social process" (p. xxiii).

With Dupont's valuable introduction this diary extends the scope of Ferenczi's published papers which more than a half-century after his death still have much to offer to contemporary therapists.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.