1st Edition

Mutual Analysis Ferenczi, Severn, and the Origins of Trauma Theory

By Peter L. Rudnytsky Copyright 2022
    366 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    366 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Sándor Ferenczi’s mutual analysis with Elizabeth Severn—the patient known as R.N. in the Clinical Diary—is one of the most controversial and consequential episodes in the history of psychoanalysis. In his latest groundbreaking work, Peter L. Rudnytsky draws on a trove of archival sources to provide a definitive scholarly account of this experiment, which constitutes a paradigm for relational psychoanalysis, as Freud’s self-analysis does for classical psychoanalysis.

    In Part 1, Rudnytsky tells the story of Severn’s life and traces the unfolding of her ideas, culminating in The Discovery of the Self. He shows how her book contains disguised case histories not only of Ferenczi and Severn herself—and thereby forms an indispensable companion volume to Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary—but also of Severn’s daughter Margaret, an internationally acclaimed dancer whose history of childhood sexual abuse uncannily replicated Severn’s own. Part 2 compares Severn to Clara Thompson and Izette de Forest as transmitters of Ferenczi’s legacy, sets the record straight about Ferenczi’s final illness, and reveals how Severn went beyond Freud and Groddeck in her capacity as Ferenczi’s analyst. Finally, in Part 3, Rudnytsky delineates the contrast between Freud and Ferenczi as men and thinkers and makes it clear why he agrees with Erich Fromm that Ferenczi’s example demonstrates how Freud’s attitude need not be that of all analysts.

    The first comprehensive study of Ferenczi’s mutual analysis with Severn, this book is a profound reexamination of Ferenczi’s relationship to Freud and an impassioned defense of Severn and Ferenczi’s views on the nature and treatment of trauma. It will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, especially to relational analysts, self psychologists, and trauma theorists.

    Prelude: Ferenczi’s Secret Life  PART 1: Conceptions  1. Traces of a Life  2. The Metaphysical Calling  3. Much Farther Than Freudianism  4. The Psychoanalytic Severn  5. The Case of Ferenczi  6. Mother and Daughter  PART 2: Contexts  7. Polygamous Analysis  8. The End of the Affair  9. Ferenczi’s Sanity and the “Blood-Crisis”  10. Kissing Papa Ferenczi  11. Beyond Groddeck  12. The Evil Genius  PART 3: Consequences  13. For No Assignable External Reason  14. Roux’s Needle  15. The Antitraumatic in Freud  16. New Veins of Gold  Finale: A Whole Soul


    Peter L. Rudnytsky is Professor of English at the University of Florida and Head of the Department of Academic and Professional Affairs as well as Chair of the Committee on Confidentiality of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Coeditor of the History of Psychoanalysis series for Routledge and the Psychoanalytic Horizons series for Bloomsbury, he has edited Severn’s The Discovery of the Self in the Relational Perspectives series and received the Gradiva Award for Reading Psychoanalysis: Freud, Rank, Ferenczi, Groddeck.

    "Peter Rudnytsky is not only our best scholar (i.e. thorough in reading, meticulous in research, and innovative in interpretation), he is the most enjoyable as well. His writing style is a seamless blend of historical documentation, behind-the-scenes glimpses of our pioneers, theoretical argument, juicy trivia, lament, and unexpected revelations. Unmasking the personal determinants of puzzling impasses and impressive advances in the theoretical evolution of our field, Rudnytsky dazzles us with his investigative zeal."

    Salman Akhtar, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, and Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia