Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and impossible analyst?

Interestingly, Ferenczi’s request for personal analysis with Freud, made on December 26,1912, was preceded by the request that Freud take Elma into analysis, and by the unexpected suggestion that he take Jung himself into analysis. Ferenczi’s request for personal analysis followed immediately upon a pertinent evaluation of Jung’s vehement refusal to be analysed by Freud. To put this refusal in perspective, we shall return briefly to the beginning of this year, 1912.

Paternal transference or filial transference?

We don’t know whether it is the analyst or the troubled suitor who speaks when, on January 20, Ferenczi describes Elma’s paternal transference in these terms:

It doesn’t actually surprise me now that Elma is not behaving like a bride. I know, of course, that by far the greatest part of her love for me was father transference, which easily takes another as an object. You will hardly be surprised that under these circumstances I, too, can hardly consider myself a bridegroom any longer.

hi the same letter, Ferenczi tries to reassure Freud concerning the infantile curiosity the latter saw in him:

Strangely, the infantile curiosity to experience fatherly intimacies has subsided noticeably in me lately. The main thing that I was curious about was whether the father loves me. The great and heartfelt sharing that you brought to me in these difficult days seems to have calmed me down with respect to this.

As we shall see, Ferenczi is alluding to his rather clumsy involvement in the recent Emma Jung incident.

The confusion of tongues between the two men has now reached its height. Ferenczi has forgotten that Freud did not reduce his earlier curiosity about the Fliess affair to purely infantile curiosity, or that he did not maintain a position of obstinate refusal when he acknowledged that “the nature of the thing” created an impossibility to say. Ferenczi also refuses the assessment of fraternal rivalry existing between himself and Jung:

For that reason I can now think and write about Jung entirely without brotherly envy. I suspect that he has - in addition to the money complex, which you emphasized - an unlimited and uncontrolled ambition, which manifests itself in petty hate and envy toward you, who are so sttperior to him [...] His unsatisfied ambition makes him dangerous under certain conditions.

While two months earlier Ferenczi was still thinking that Jung was in a situation, vis-à-vis Freud, similar to what he himself had experienced in Palermo, now he clearly takes a different position and, rightly, condemns Jung’s attitude towards Freud: “He is also not very tactful in choosing his methods; the marner in which he responded to you is very significant.”

Once he has made this clear, Freud’s paladin invites him to take a more open and subtle approach to Jung’s lack of tactfulness, to adopt a less militant and more analytic attitude: “Even so, it would be a mistake for you to be too resentful of him on account of this ‘gaminerie. ’ The best solution would, of course, be a free discussion (with psychoanalytic openness).”

Ferenczi seizes this perfect opportunity to invite Freud to show Jung the “psychoanalytic openness” he himself has been seeking in vain. And he is clearly speaking of his own situation when he takes the liberty of advising Freud: “All in all, I think that some caution is indicated with respect to Jung. But in my opinion he doesn’t deserve having the Fliessian mistrust transferred to him.”

Ferenczi may retreat, he may sidestep, but he remains certain that the reality affecting Freud’s relations with the most eminent analysts in his circle has to do with the consequences of the traumatic Fliess affair, a wound less well healed than Freud thinks. To surmount this obstacle which now blocks transmission, Ferenczi makes an unexpected suggestion: “[...] it would also certainly be necessary to take Jung into psychoanalytic treatment from now on.” This procedure, the analysis of the analyst, applies not only to Jung, but to all of them. Ferenczi goes on, drawing Freud’s attention resolutely to a difficulty he seems to want to ignore, despite the many incidents that could have served as a warning in the past. This difficulty, Ferenczi insists, is not cartsed by the incidental symptom or character trait of one colleague or another, but by an unavoidable fact related to the workings of the unconscious in everyone.

Is Ferenczi trying to change Freud’s belief that any responsible adult can become an analyst by following his example? By conducting a self-analysis whose goal does not have to be a complete reshaping of the personality? He reminds Freud of his exceptional status as the discoverer of the laws of the unconscious, and the father of psychoanalysis: “There is no alternative: you have to do everything yourself all your life.” He even takes up an argument used earlier by Emma:

Your successor has not yet arrived; by that I mean that among us analysts there is still not a single one who, having completely mastered his personal weaknesses, particularly his egoism, could work for the cause and also has the necessary talent and endurance to do so.

In other words, Freud must continue to fill his exceptional position. What is urgent is not to designate a successor, but to provide his disciples with psychoanalytic training. And as recent incidents demonstrate, this training must go beyond selfanalysis. It must include personal analysis, which only Freud himself can conduct: “This is small consolation for you, but what use is there in denying it!” Of course, Jung did not undertake an analysis - quite the contrary. At the end of this same year, he would violently reject any such idea.

Thanks to this final heated confrontation between Jung and Freud, Ferenczi was able to submit his request for a personal analysis we consider to be the true original analysis.

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