Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, Volume 2: 1914-1919

The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, Volume 2: 1914-1919

Sigmund Freud, Sándor Ferenczi

Edited by Ernst Falzeder and Eva Brabant
Translated by Peter T. Hoffer

ISBN 9780674174191

Publication date: 03/01/1996

Volume I 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 nation-shattering events of World War I form a somber 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 the war intact? And will Freud's "problem-child," psychoanalysis, survive?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 Pálos, 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 characteristic contradictions and inconsistencies, Freud restrained, Ferenczi more effusive and revealing. Freud, for example, unswervingly favors 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 vividly 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 painful and heartrending events ahead.


  • Freud's extensive correspondence with his disciples offers an inside vantage point on the psychoanalytic movement...[and] no colleague wrote to Freud on more intimate terms than Sándor Ferenczi...Absorbing...Like the first volume of the Freud-Ferenczi correspondence, Volume 2 has been meticulously prepared. Footnotes to each letter explain literary and biographical references, translate Latin phrases and occasionally even explain jokes. Axel Hoffer's introduction offers enough background to make this second volume worth reading on its own.

    —Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle


  • Ernst Falzeder, a psychologist in Liezen, Austria, has published widely on the history of psychoanalysis.
  • Eva Brabant is a psychoanalyst and historian in Paris.
  • Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch is a psychoanalyst and lecturer in philosophy at the University of Vienna.
  • Peter T. Hoffer is Professor of German at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
  • Axel Hoffer, M.D., a practicing psychoanalyst in the Boston area, is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England (PINE).

Book Details

  • 448 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press
  • With Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch
  • Introduction by Axel Hoffer

From this author