On Ferenczi’s ‘Clinical Diary’: Trauma, Hypocrisy, Authority
The Clinical Diary of Sándor Ferenczi is a clinically rich and theoretically innovative writing. While it has definitive relevance for contemporary psychoanalytic practice, it remains an underexplored and even controversial piece.
The course will explore the importance of this text for understanding Sándor Ferenczi’s trauma theory. Ferenczi was “forgotten” for many decades, and this “forgetfulness” had to do to a large extent to his revisions to Freudian theory and technique, which are reflected in the Diary.
Entering a systematic engagement with and offering a close reading of this text, we discuss Ferenczi’s ideas on matter, bodies and organs. We then approach Ferenczi’s metapsychology, by looking at hypocrisy, authority and guilt, which constitute the foundations of this trauma theory. We explore some of the political implications of this conception, and we conclude that, for Ferenczi, trauma theory is also a theory of the subject.
We aim for a historically-situated and critical discussion of Ferenczi’s work. We read Ferenczi’s texts closely, reflecting on how his metapsychology differs from the Freudian one, and on his main innovations in psychoanalytic theory and technique. We also work in dialogue with various theoretical and clinical perspectives (such as Klein, Winnicott, Balint, Lacan, Green, Laplanche). In so doing, we give significant space to clinical discussion, working with vignettes from Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary and from contemporary clinical practice.