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Book Forum: Biography   |    
Disappearing and Reviving: Sandor Ferenczi in the History of Psychoanalysis
Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:2128-2129. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.159.12.2128
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Cambridge, Mass.

By Andre E. Haynal. London, Karnac Books, 2002, 168 pp., $33.00 (paper).

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Haynal has been one of the most balanced and civilized exponents in behalf of Sandor Ferenczi. Although Ferenczi was once notoriously demeaned as mentally ill in the course of Ernest Jones’s biography of Freud because Jones chose to ignore the pernicious anemia that afflicted Ferenczi at the end of his life, Ferenczi’s revival in recent years has been nothing less than spectacular. In Disappearing and Reviving we have 10 elegant essays that provide a short intellectual biography.

Haynal begins with a chapter on Ferenczi’s work before he met Freud and then moves on to discuss what might have been meant by the concept of "healing through love." The personal and professional intimacy between Freud and Ferenczi was so entangled, lasting over so many years, that it has proven impossible to consign Ferenczi to the bin of those who are so-called psychoanalytic troublemakers. Although at times Ferenczi could participate in behalf of Freud’s most sectarian purposes, Ferenczi’s humaneness led him by the end of his life to try fresh approaches to psychotherapeutic practice that went beyond what Freud, in his old age, was willing to entertain.

Chapter 3 deals specifically with the problem of psychoanalytic technique in the 1920s and how it prepared for Ferenczi’s momentous Clinical Diary. Chapter 4 discusses the concept of trauma, whose recent applicability accounts for much of the recent interest in Ferenczi’s work. Chapter 5 focuses on Ferenczi’s contribution to the developing concept of countertransference, and chapter 6 concerns affects in the psychoanalytic encounter. Chapter 7 deals with the three-volume correspondence between Freud and Ferenczi, which Haynal did so much to help bring to successful publication. Chapter 8 discusses the issue of Ferenczi as a "dissident." Chapter 9 considers the tragic nature of the relationship between Freud and Ferenczi, and the concluding chapter sums up the nature of Ferenczi’s legacy.

Ferenczi died in 1933; therefore, writing a full-scale biography of him has to be a matter of historical reconstruction. Lots of documentation was lost in the various military attacks on Ferenczi’s native Budapest, but the spirit of this Hungarian school of psychoanalysis continues to flourish, and Haynal’s spirited essays will help orient a new generation to what deserves to be remembered about this great pioneer in the history of psychotherapy.




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