The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis: Volume II: Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis: Volume II

Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, 1st Edition

By Carlo Bonomi


272 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis Volume II explores how the unformulated trauma associated with surgery performed on Emma Eckstein’s genitalia, and the hallucinations that Eckstein experienced, influenced Freud’s self-analysis, oriented his biological speculations, and significantly influenced one of his closest followers, Sándor Ferenczi. This thought-provoking and incisive work shows how Ferenczi filled the gaps left open in Freud’s system and proved to be a useful example for examining how such gaps are transmitted from one mind to another.

The first of three parts explores how the mind of the child was viewed prior to Freud, what events led Freud to formulate and later abandon his theory of actual trauma, and why Freud turned to the phylogenetic past. Bonomi delves deeper into Freud’s self-analysis in part two and reexamines the possible reasons that led Freud to discard the impact and effects of trauma. The final part explores the interpersonal effects of Freud’s self-dissection dream, arguing that Ferenczi managed to dream aspects of Freud’s self-dissection dream on various occasions, which helped him to incorporate a part of Freud’s psyche that Freud had himself failed to integrate.

This book questions the subject of a woman’s body, using discourse between Freud and Ferenczi to build a more integrated and accurate narrative of the origins and theories of psychoanalysis. It will therefore be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychologists and social scientists, as well as historians of medicine, science and human rights. Bonomi’s work introduces new arguments to the contemporary debate surrounding Female Genital Mutilation.


‘Carlo Bonomi is a master detective. In the two volumes of The Cut he attempts to decipher Freud's emotional world and its impact on his theories. Uncovering many new facts, and boldly connecting and re-interpreting known facts, he outlines the place of male and female circumcision, seen at that time as a measure preventing dangerous masturbation, in Freud's life and work. In the second volume he suggests that Freud's close disciple and friend Ferenczi absorbed Freud's preoccupation with symbolic castration, but transformed it into his innovative theory of trauma, which aroused Freud's ambivalence.’Emanuel Berman, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Israel Psychoanalytic Society, Tel Aviv, Israel

‘With a deep knowledge of Freud’s life and work, particularly as it is revealed through autobiographical notes and correspondences, Bonomi attempts to formulate a new narrative of Master Sigmund’s evolution. The proposed hypothesis is fascinating, well documented and very innovative and enlightening. This second volume completes the oeuvre convincingly. A pleasure to read.’André E. Haynal M.D., Psychoanalyst (IPA) and Professor, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

‘By shedding a new light into the traumatic origins of psychoanalysis, Carlo Bonomi provides a meaningful and extremely rich context for the Freud-Ferenczi conflict. In his articulated narrative the author leans on the most founding dreams of the two men, their personal story, their deafnesses (in particular on Freud’s neglect of the feminine), their most impressing cases as well as on mythologies and religions. Using all these elements, he shows how the theories of Freud and Ferenczi took their origin in all these sources, developed, intertwining, confronting or completing each other and finally resulting in a cut between their two conceptions of psychoanalysis which had lasting consequences on the evolution of the psychoanalytic community, its ways of thinking and practising.’ – Dr Judith Dupont, Psychoanalyst, Member of Association Psychanalytique de France, Paris, France

‘Carlo Bonomi is indeed an original interpreter of the complex and complicated various steps of Freud in founding psychoanalysis. In the pages of the second volume of The Cut and the Building of Psychoanalysis he continues his journey into the origins of psychoanalysis, extending his exploration from Freud’s mind to the minds of other classic authors, principally Sándor Ferenczi, who, though not in open opposition with the Master, created a new language for trauma, offering many elements of a metapsychology much more respectful of patients and closer to their suffering. I can only recommend this alternative narrative of the building of psychoanalysis to all the people interested and curious in the still partially secret history of psychoanalysis, because I am sure that any reader will gain a lot independently from agreeing or not with its principal theses.– Franco Borgogno. Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society (IPA), Professor of Clinical Psychology at Turin University, Turin, Italy

Table of Contents

Gaps, Miracles and Ghosts: Introduction to Volume Two Part 1: Theory in Context 1. Infantile Amnesia 2. Rise and Fall of the Seduction Theory 3. Primal Fantasies, Biotrauma, and Shock Part 2: The Abyss 4. The Fatal Needle 5. The Blood Covenant 6. The Timeless Unconscious I 7. The Timeless Unconscious II 8. Necropolis Part 3: Transmission 9. Mute Correspondence I. Catabasis 10. Mute Correspondence II. Epopteia 11. Thalassa: A Reparative Fantasy 12. A Blind Spot 13. Nightmares are Real 14. Freud and Firenczi on the Acropolis 15. Flight into Sanity

About the Author

Carlo Bonomi is President of the International Sándor Ferenczi Network and Chair of the 13th International Sándor Ferenczi Conference (Florence, 2018), a training and supervising analyst at the Società Italiana di Psicoanalisi Sándor Ferenczi (SIP-SF), Associate Editor of the International Forum of Psychoanalysis and on the editorial board of several psychoanalytic journals. He has taught History of Psychology and Dynamic Psychology at the State University of Florence and is a former President of the Centre for Historical Studies of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health