Pioneers in Object Relations Clinical Thinking:
Sandor Ferenczi (1873 – 1933)

On July 7th, we celebrate birthday of Sandor Ferenczi, Hungarian psychoanalyst, who once was a loyal Freud’s follower, and who never belonged to the British psychoanalytic circles, but who made a major contribution to the Object Relations clinical theory. Ferenczi became a pioneer of the theory of trauma and understanding of importance of countertransference and therapeutic regression. These are some thoughts from Ferenczi’s writings:

Certain phases of mutual analysis represent the complete renunciation of all compulsion and of all authority on both sides: they give the impression of two equally terrified children who compare their experiences, and because of their common fate understand each other completely and instinctively try to comfort each other.

Sandor Ferenczi

The advantage of sympathy is an ability to penetrate deeply into the feelings of others, and the compulsive wish to help, to which the patient will respond with gratitude. But sooner or later it comes to pass that the patient is not helped by simple empathy. They either wish to stay with me and have me make them happy for the rest of their lives; or they prefer an end in terror rather than terror without end.

Sandor Ferenczi

The patient became convinced long ago that a great many of her symptoms had somehow been forced upon her from the outside. Since she has become acquainted with psychoanalytic terminology she refers to these sensations, tendencies, displacements and forcibly imposed actions, alien to her own ego as well as contrary and harmful to its tendencies, as actions of the “superego”. She represents this implantation of something alien to her own ego in a quite material way. The two principal persons who impose painful portions of their own egos onto her personality, in order, as it were, to rid themselves of the tension and unpleasure that they had provoked, are above all her mother…and more recently a lady of her acquaintance, who for a period of time had exercised a kind of psychoanalytical as well as metaphysical influence over her.