The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi: His historical and contemporary importance in psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi

His historical and contemporary importance in psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Thierry Bokanowski


136 pages

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The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi provides a concise yet thorough overview of the life and work of Sandor Ferenczi. It seeks to help make his thought and work better known, as a controversial pioneering psychoanalyst whose importance to psychoanalysis has sometimes been wrongfully neglected and relegated to backstage.

Including excerpts from his most important papers, this book gives the reader a clear guide to the major tenets of Ferenczi’s work, the psychoanalytic context in which his significant achievements occurred, and the continued importance of his work for contemporary psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice. Thierry Bokanowski examines Ferenczi’s work in three main stages:

1. A first period of contribution to Freud’s work (1908-1914)

2. A second period of the deployment of Ferenczi’s own thought and work (1914-1925)

3. A third period of calling concepts into question and advancing new concepts (1926-1933)

Bokanowski offers a detailed analysis of these three periods, illustrating them vividly by analysing Ferenczi’s numerous and very famous articles or books during these periods in a way that allows his very original way of thinking to unfold. He then examines at the theoretical level the heritage of Ferenczi’s hypotheses developed across these three time spans.

Covering Ferenczi’s relationship with Freud and with other early psychoanalysts, and his role in formulating well-established concepts such as introjection, countertransference and narcissistic splitting, The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi provides an essential and accessible read for any student or clinician of psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy seeking to apply Ferenczi’s work in the present and understand the historical development of psychoanalytic ideas.


"Bokanowski’s book is an important contribution for it shows in a rigorous way how Ferenczi’s ideas are essential in our daily clinical work today. It is a poignant book, which explores the vivid dimension of love and hate between Freud and Ferenczi whose drama was to have been far in advance of his time. He underlined the distinctions between traumas and offered a metapsychological understanding of early ego-splitting, including the splitting between soul and body. As a psychosomatician, I would say that he should be seen as the Grandfather of modern post Freudian psychosomatics and especially the Paris School. Through a living and embodied style of writing, Bokanowski shows that it was their respective views of the countertransference more than anything else that separated the paths of these two giants of psychoanalysis."-Marilia Aisenstein, Training Analyst, Hellenic Psychoanalytical Society and Paris Psychoanalytical Society.

Table of Contents

Part One The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi

Chapter One The Modernity of Sándor Ferenczi

Chapter Two A life inscribed in the crucible of the history of the psychoanalytic movement

Part Two: The Work

Chapter Three Presentation

Chapter Four "Introjection and transference" (1909a): the master stroke

Chapter Five "A little chanticleer" (1913a).

Chapter Six Thalassa. A Theory of Genitality. (1924a).

Chapter Seven "The technical innovations" (1918-1933)

  • Active technique: those who are "absent" from themselves.
  • The "elasticity"of the technique: new countertransference approaches
  • Passionate states and new conceptions on traumatism
  • Radicalisation and limits of the technique

Chapter Eight The concept of the "wise baby" (1924-1932)

Chapter Nine The Clinical Diary (January-October, 1932):

  • The theoretical axis: trauma
  • The technical axis: mutual analysis
  • The personal axis: relations with Freud

Chapter Ten The heritage of Ferenczi’s advances at the theoretical level

Part Three: Choice of texts

"Transference and introjection" (1909a)

"On obscene words (contribution to the psychology of the latency period)" (1910a)

"Interchange of affect in dreams" (1916/1917)

"The further development of the "active therapy" in psycho-analysis (1920)

"The dream of the ‘wise’ baby" (1923a)

Thalassa, a Theory of Genitality (1924a)

"Contra-indications to the ‘active’ psycho-analytical technique" (1926a)

"The elasticity of psycho-analytic technique" (1928a)

"The principle of relaxation and neocatharsis" (1930a)

"Confusion of tongues between adults and the child" (1933a)

Afterword Robert Bartlett, Adrienne Harris, and Lauren Levine

About the Author

Thierry Bokanowski is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is currently a training and supervising analyst at the Paris Psychoanalytical Society (SPP). He has published articles across a range of different journals including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and has participated in numerous collective works on psychoanalysis in both French and English.

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