The Freud Museum

Events Archive

12 June 2015
7pm - doors open at 6.30pm

The Freud/Ferenczi Letters

A Staged Reading of Selected Letters between Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi

This staged reading of selected letters between Sigmund Freud and Sandor Ferenczi is the first performance in Britain of a project which originated in the US. The reading was devised and is performed by a group of American psychoanalysts, and sensitively explores the complex relationship between Sigmund Freud and his friend and colleague, Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi.

The reading will be performed by Drs Elliott Adler, Louise DeCosta, Neil Skolnick, and Isaac Tylim. ‘Our primary intention in creating this dramatic reading, culled from a remarkable correspondence of more than 1200 letters, is to give our audience an opportunity to encounter the complex emotional texture of this highly creative relationship. By turns mentor and heir, colleague and collaborator, analyst and analysand, above all ambivalent Father and Son, the arc of their friendship embraced multiple roles and moods. We believe that many of the tensions that each of us face in our daily clinical practice may be illuminated by an appreciation of how these two men confronted, handled and at times manhandled the multiple challenges of psychoanalytic intimacy’

This performance follows the successful staged reading of The Rest is Silence: The Freud/Jung letters at the Freud Museum in February, and is devised by the same group

The reading will be introduced by Dr Judit Szekacs, who was instrumental in bringing the Ferenczi Archive to the Museum in 2012.

The Freud Museum holds an important collection of letters, manuscripts, notebooks and photographs related to the life and work of Sándor Ferenczi. The archive, which includes Ferenczi’s clinical diary and a number of unpublished documents, is of great significance to the history of psychoanalysis.

Sándor Ferenczi (1873-1933) was one of the most innovative psychoanalysts of his generation. An early follower of Freud, with whom he also underwent personal analysis, he was instrumental in helping to establish psychoanalysis internationally. He was a key figure in the founding of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and was founder of the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society – which celebrates its centenary this year – in 1913. He made numerous original contributions to psychoanalytic theory and pioneered new, sometimes controversial techniques that challenged the notion of the analyst as a neutral observer, instead encouraging active and emotive participation in the analytic work. He is remembered today for his compassionate, humanistic approach to therapeutic work.


Notes from Dr Elliott Adler

‘Sandor Ferenczi, Freud’s intimate friend and collaborator for 25 years, was arguably the most influential member of a small coterie of pioneers who dedicated their lives to the development of Freudian psychoanalysis, both as a theory of mind, and as a treatment for emotional disturbance, during the early years of the 20 century.

Though different in temperament and personality, both shared a tendency towards bold speculation, balanced by a gift for acute psychological observation. They dared to envision a psychoanalytic movement whose broader social impact could liberate personal relationships from the hypocritical values that inhibit the freedom of the human spirit. It was a time of enormous hope as well as intense frustration; for they wrestled with their limited understanding of an untested therapy, the virulent criticism of a sceptical scientific community, as well as the chaos and privations of a world going through cataclysmic political transformation.’


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