1st Edition

Michael Balint and his World: The Budapest Years

Edited By Judit Szekacs-Weisz, Raluca Soreanu, Ivan Ward Copyright 2024
    208 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    208 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This fascinating collection explores the life of renowned psychoanalyst Michael Balint in his native Budapest. With a Balint revival in mind, Michael Balint and his World: The Budapest Years brings together the work of psychoanalysts, social thinkers, historians, literary scholars, artists and medical doctors who draw on Balint’s work in a variety of ways.

    The book focuses on Balint’s early years in Budapest, where he worked with Sándor Ferenczi and a circle of colleagues, capturing the transformations of psychoanalytic thinking as it happens in a network of living relationships. Tracing creative disagreements as well as collaborations, and setting these exchanges in the climate of scientific, social and cultural developments of the time, Michael Balint and his World: The Budapest Years follows the development of psychoanalytic thinking during these critical times. The book recalls the story of several “lost children” of the Budapest School and reconstitutes Balint’s important early contributions on primary love. It also examines his little-known relationship with Lacan, including the extended discussion of Balint’s work by Wladimir Granoff in Lacan’s first public seminar in Paris in 1954, published here for the first time.

    This important book provides a fresh perspective on Balint’s enormous contribution to the field of psychoanalysis and will interest both scholars and clinicians. It will also inspire those interested in clinical practice and the applications of psychoanalysis to the cultural sphere.

    Series editor's foreword 


    About the editors


    Contributor affiliations

    Editor's note

    Chronology of Michael Bálint’s life

     Part 1: Budapest trails

    1. A brief introduction to the Balints and their world: Object relations and beyond 

    Judit Szekacs-Weisz

    2. Michael Bálint, his world and his Oeuvre

    André Haynal 

    2a. Remembering André Haynal (1930-2019)

    Judit Szekacs-Weisz 

    3. The problems of education and society in the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis 

    Ferenc Erős

    3a. Remembering Ferenc Erős (1946-2020)

    Judit Szekacs-Weisz

    4. "I look into a room through a round gap". Alice Bálint's life, work and diaries 

    Anna Borgos

     Part 2: Creativity and primary love 

    5. Therapy, object relations and primary narcissism: Metapsychology in the early works of Michael Bálint 

    Antal Bókay

    6. Primary harmony: Baby observation on infantile hopes and quiet states 

    Julianna Vamos

     7. Human links 

    Antonella Bussanich

    8. Michael Bálint and the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis on the importance of creativity

    Zoltán Kovári

     Part 3: Lost children of psychoanalysis

    9. Lost children of the recent history of psychoanalysis: Tibor Rajka MD, 1901-1980 

    Judit Szekacs-Weisz

    10. Remembering Dr István Székács-Schönberger 

    Gábor Flaskay and Zsuzsa Mérei

    11. My debt to Michael Bálint 

    Kathleen Kelley-Lainé

    Part 4: Links rediscovered 

    12. Introduction to Wladimir Granoff's presentation on Balint at Lacan's seminar

    Martine Bacherich

    13. Presentation on Balint at Lacan's seminar Freud's papers on technique, 26 May 1954 

    Wladimir Granoff

    14. Lacan's Balint: Synergies and discords in a professional friendship 

    Dany Nobus



    Judit Szekacs-Weisz, PhD, is a bilingual psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. Born and educated (mostly) in Budapest, Hungary, she has taken in the way of thinking and ideas of Ferenczi, the Balints, Hermann and Rajka as an integral part of a “professional mother tongue”. Living and working in a totalitarian world sensitised her to the social and individual aspects of trauma, identity formation and strategies of survival.

    Raluca Soreanu is Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, and psychoanalyst, member of the Círculo Psicanalítico do Rio de Janeiro. She is the project lead of FREEPSY: Free Clinics and a Psychoanalysis for the People: Progressive Histories, Collective Practices, Implications for Our Times (UKRI Frontier Research Grant).

    Ivan Ward is former Deputy Director and Head of Learning at the Freud Museum London, where he worked for 33 years. He is author of a number of books and papers on psychoanalytic theory and the applications of psychoanalysis to socio-cultural issues. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at UCL Psychoanalysis Unit.

    "In this deliciously gripping book, the editors and chapter authors transport us on a highly readable and deeply enlightening tour of the often-forgotten contributions of the creative and bold pioneers of psychoanalysis in Hungary, not least the achievements of Michael Balint and his first wife, Alice Balint. Beautifully researched, incorporating much previously unpublished data, this groundbreaking volume offers not only extensive historical wisdom but, also, reminds us of the ways in which the work of Balint and his Budapest colleagues can enhance contemporary psychoanalysis."

    Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow, Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London, and Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regent’s University London, and Honorary Director of Research, Freud Museum London


    "In a period when the idea of 'correct technique' was becoming crystallized around language, Michael Balint explored the 'gulf between patient and analyst' like no other, taking care to acknowledge the fractured balance between the individual and the environment, while teaching us the importance of becoming 'unsolid'. Nowadays we are, perhaps, more ready to appreciate the sensitive, profound, and elegant way he rethought the basic grammar of the analytic experience. This collection of essays and original documents on Michael Balint and his World, illuminates a variety of less known aspects of The Budapest Years. It is an engaging invitation to revive his inspiring legacy. I strongly recommend it."

    Carlo Bonomi, Ph.D., training and supervising analyst of the Società Italiana di Psicoanalisi Sándor Ferenczi, president of the International Sándor Ferenczi Network (ISFN), associate editor of the International Forum of Psychoanalysis, and Founding President of the Sandor Ferenczi Cultural Association


    "I hear with pleasure and emotion that the book about Balint and the Hungarian analytic society will soon be available. The list of contributors is impressive. Much thanks to them."

    Judith Dupont, psychoanalyst, translator, author and editor, member of the French Psychoanalytical Society, founder of the psychoanalytic journal Le Coq-héron, and literary executor for Michael Balint