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6. The Adaptation of the Family to the Child (1927)

Sandor Ferenczi Karnac Books ePub

Being Free Associations on Children’s Education (1928)

THE title which I have given to this paper is rather an unusual one, for we are generally concerned with the adaptation of the child to the family, not that of the family to the child; but our special studies in psycho-analysis have shown that it is we who should make the first adaptation, and that we have in fact made the first step in this direction, which of course is to understand the child. Psycho-analysis is often reproached for being too exclusively concerned with pathological material; this is true, but we learn much from a study of the abnormal that is of value when applied to the normal. In the same way the study of the physiology of the brain would never have advanced so far as it has without a knowledge of the processes of faulty function; by a study of neurotics and psychotics psycho-analysis shows the way in which the different levels or layers, or the different ways of functioning, are hidden behind the surface of normality. In the study of the primitive or the child we find traits which are invisible in more civilized people; indeed we stand in debt to children for the light they have thrown on psychology, and the best and most logical way of repaying that debt(it is in our interest as well as theirs to do so) is to strive to improve our understanding of them through psycho-analytical studies.

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35. Washing-Compulsion and Masturbation. [1923]

Sandor Ferenczi Karnac Books ePub

I HAVE a very intelligent patient with a mixture of hysteria and obsessional neurosis. The strongest of her compulsive thoughts is that she must be crazy; she also has washing-compulsion. She was for a long time a fervid onanist, also after marriage. She always practised onanism with scruples of conscience because (as a child) her mother had threatened her that she would be (as a result of masturbation) mentally imbecile. Her present neurotic illness coincided with her abandonment of onanism. A few dream analyses convinced me that the compulsive thoughts of being deranged took the place of a mixture of perverse phantasies. To become deranged = to commit mad, foolish, imbecile acts, naturally of a sexual nature.2 She produced a mass of prostitution phantasies; the unconscious sexual phantasies were concerned with her parents, which in part she replaced by her children. She loved her little son and called him’ little father’ (in Hungarian not an extraordinary thing to do); the daughter she treated severely, and called her’ little mother’ . But the point worthy of notice in the case is that she varied the washing till at length she provided herself thereby with genital gratification. At last she masturbated with the nozzle of the irrigator and rubbed her vulva with a stiff brush. Thereby was her conscience quieted; she only washed herself and did not practise onanism. Professor Freud’s presumption, that compulsions which ought to be precautionary measures against onanism are really roundabout ways to onanism again, finds in this case an irrefutable confirmation.

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SYMBOLISM—SHORT PAPERS: The Symbolism of the Bridge. [1921]

Sandor Ferenczi Karnac Books ePub

IN establishing the symbolic relation of an object or an action to an unconscious phantasy we must first have recourse to conjectures, which necessarily undergo considerable modifications and often complete transformation with wider experience. Indications flooding in on one, as they often do, from the most diverse spheres of knowledge offer important confirmation; so that all branches of individual and group psychology can take their share in the establishment of a special symbolic relation. Dream-interpretation and analysis of neuroses, however, remain, as before, the most trustworthy foundation of every kind of symbolism, because in them we can observe in anima vili the motivation, and further the whole genesis, of mental structures of this kind. A feeling of certainty about a symbolic relation can in my opinion be attained only in psycho-analysis. Symbolic interpretations in other fields of knowledge (mythology, fairy-tales, folk-lore, etc.) always bear the impress of being superficial, two-dimensional: they tend to produce a lurking feeling of incertitude, an idea that the meaning might just as well have been something else, and indeed in these fields there is always a tendency to go on imposing new interpretations on the same content. The absence of a third dimension may well be what distinguishes the unsubstantial allegory from the symbol—a thing of flesh and blood.

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26. The Psychic Consequences of a ' Castration' in Childhood. [1916/17]

Sandor Ferenczi Karnac Books ePub

IN the paper entitled’ The Little Chanticleer’,2 who in his earliest childhood suffered a quite negligible injury to the penis which then definitely influenced the whole of his impulsive life and mental development, I had to point out the great significance of the constitutional factor in the fear of castration, for which the actual experience only acted as a determining accident.

Chance brought me a patient about three years ago who could be considered as a counterpart to’ The Little Chanticleer’ . He actually did undergo’ castration’ when not quite three years old. Of course it was not castration in a medical sense, but another operation on the penis. The patient remembered exactly how it came about. He had trouble in passing urine (certainly due to a phimosis), whereupon it occurred to his father, a very headstrong country squire, in spite of his being a good Christian, to ask—instead of the district doctor—the advice of the village Jewish butcher, who suggested the only method of cure to be recommended from a medical point of view, namely, circumcision. The father immediately agreed; the butcher brought his long, sharp knife and carried out the removal of the foreskin on the desperately struggling boy, who, naturally, had to be forcibly held.

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75. Concerning the Psychogenesis of Mechanism. [1919]

Sandor Ferenczi Karnac Books ePub

THE psycho-analyst, who has learnt to meet the almost unanimous rejection of his science by mankind whose soul it has disquieted, with a certain fatalism, is, at long intervals of time, temporarily shaken out of this mood by certain experiences. While the savants who set the fashion are unremittingly occupied in destroying and burying our science for the nth time, there appears now in furthest India, now in Mexico, in Peru or Australia, a lonely thinker, a doctor or observer of humanity, and declares himself to be a follower of Freud. It is still more surprising when it turns out that a psycho-analyst has been at work silently in our very midst and suddenly publishes the psychoanalytical knowledge he has been accumulating for years. Most rarely of all, however, is one in the position to discover in the works of recognized leaders of present-day science traces of psycho-analytic influence, or a parallelism between their thought tendencies and those of the psychoanalysts.

In this state of affairs every one will find it pardonable and understandable that on reading the preface to Ernst Mach’s work, Kultur und Mechanik,2I for a moment dropped the fatalistic attitude—which is, of course, only forced upon one and is hard to bear—and gave myself up to the optimistic idea that I could salute and esteem as of one mind with me one of the foremost thinkers and scientists at present living.3

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