frank in light of ferenczi: commentary on paper by kenneth a. frank
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Psychoanalytic Dialogues: TheInternational Journal of RelationalPerspectivesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/hpsd20
Frank in Light of Ferenczi: Commentaryon Paper by Kenneth A. FrankTherese Ragen Ph.D. aa New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis andPsychotherapyPublished online: 08 Jun 2012.
To cite this article: Therese Ragen Ph.D. (2012) Frank in Light of Ferenczi: Commentary on Paperby Kenneth A. Frank, Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives,22:3, 341-343, DOI: 10.1080/10481885.2012.679603
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Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22:341343, 2012Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1048-1885 print / 1940-9222 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10481885.2012.679603
Frank in Light of Ferenczi: Commentaryon Paper by Kenneth A. Frank
Therese Ragen, Ph.D.New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
The subject of this discussion is Kenneth A. Franks Paper Strangers to ourselves: exploring thelimits and potentials of the analysts self awareness in self- and mutual analysis. The author looks atFranks ideas about this subject in light of some of the reflections put forth on it by Sandor Ferenczi,the father of mutual analysis. It seems that Ferenczis thoughts about this are quite consonant withFranks on both the potentials and limitations of the analysts self awareness in self and mutual.
Kenneth A. Frank (this issue) begins his paper, Strangers to Ourselves: Exploring the Limitsand Potentials of the Analysts Self Awareness in Self- and Mutual Analysis, with a quote froma 1910 letter Ferenczi wrote to Freud: I am aware of the fact that only the capacity for totalself-analysis, the bringing out of ones inner conflicts without outside aid, signifies the final cureof a person (p. 163). Ferenczi did say that, but he also wrote to Freud:
I spent the first free afternoon (day before yesterday) with self-analysis in writing. It went smoothly;I imagined I was talking to you. (1914, p. 20)
It seems that I will not be finished with my inner affairs without external aid. To be sure, I havediscontinued all self analysis for a long time. (1916a, p. 127)
If you permit, instead of simply auto-analysis I want to attempt to analyze the particularoccurrences in my letter to you; the transference will certainly fecundate me (1916b, p. 132)
Unfortunately, I must againin absentiatake an hour fromor withyou, since a sad occur-rence of the day does not let me sleep, despite sleeping pills. Perhaps this peculiar technique ofself-analysisby letter (i.e., in the constant presence of an imaginary analyst)is not all togetherunsuitable for terminating a treatment. (1917, p. 252)
These passages suggest that Ferenczi, at least at these points in time, took a position aboutself-analysis that was much closer to Franks own view. We see Ferenczi, even this early on,expressing his awareness of the limitations of self-analysis for himself and using the process wenow call mentalization in his analysis. He seems to have been clear that his experience of selfwas embedded in relationship and needed to be analyzed in relationship.
Reading Franks paper I was struck by the resonance of his experience with Ferenzcis (1932)as we know it from The Clinical Diary. Both were quite aware of their own vulnerability in
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disclosing themselves to a patient. Ferenczi agreed to engage in his first mutual analysis, whichwas with his patient Elizabeth Severn (R.N. in the Diary), only after two years in which Severnrepeatedly made the case that Ferenczi had unconscious countertransference obstacles and resis-tances that prevented him from fully analyzing her. Even then, he characterized his openness tomutual analysis as submitting to the unusual sacrifice of risking an experiment in which I thedoctor put myself into the hands of a not undangerous patient (p. 19).1
Frank (this issue) initially dismissed his patient Joans feeling that Frank was remote and asnot really hearing or understanding her (p. 313). Instead, he interpreted her finding him detachedas a transference reaction, as stemming from her experience of her father as remote, undepend-able, uninterested and self-involved (p. 314). Disagreeing with Frank that the source of theproblem was her transference reaction, Joan pressed him over the next several sessions to lookwithin himself. In response to Joans assertion, one day in session Frank stopped and lookedfor thoughts, images, bodily sensations, whatever came up (p. 314), and it was then that a jar-ring recognition of a countertransference block hit him. Identifying the block, Frank consideredtelling Joan about it. Frank stated, We must first feel trusting of a patient before we can open upand expose ourselves, and must feel confident that, if it seems desirable, we can engage in opendiscussion about how a disclosure was received (p. 320).
I think the critical question the analyst has to ask in thinking about disclosing countertrans-ference is whether or not the patient, both in general in the relationship with the analyst and inthis particular given moment as well, can be open and receptive to the experience of the analystbeing a subject and benefit from that. In Winnicotts (1971) terms the question is whether or notthe patient has made, or is ready to make, the passage from object relating to object use. UsingBenjamins (1988) terms, the question is whether or not the patient is ready for the relationshipto be one of mutual recognition between patient and analyst. As conceptualized by Aron (2000),what is involved is a determination that the patient has the capacity for self-reflexivity. Ferenczi(1932) also suggested the idea that there is a capacity that is necessary in the patient, saying,One might take the view that confessions could go further and further in relation to the patientsability to tolerate them (p. 35).
Both Ferenczi and Frank expressed caution about the lengths to which the analysis of theanalyst by the patient should go. In the Diary Ferenczi (1932) stated, One must be content withobtaining pieces of analytic insight from the patients in scattered fragments, and not allow themto concern themselves with any more than is necessary for their analysis (pp. 4445). A littlelater in the Diary, Ferenczi said, I consider my own analysis a resource for the analysis of theanalysand. The analysand was to remain the main subject (p. 71).
Frank was very careful about how he handled his disclosure of the realization that Joansillness has triggered off his feelings of the recent loss of his sister, and that he had been trying tostave off thinking Joan, whom he calls his beloved patient, could possibly die from the illnessshe had contracted. He didnt disclose this insight when he had it in session with Joan as hefeared losing his composure, but waited until a subsequent session when his feeling of and fearsof loss were not overwhelming him. He then told her that he had come to realize that, as Joan had
1Christopher Fortune (1993) reported, For over 30 years Elizabeth and Margaret Severn [Elizabeths daughter]maintained an intimate, almost daily, correspondence. In 1986, Margaret, honoring Elizabeths last request, burned hermothers letters. This was the year The Clinical Diary was first published. How much more we might have known aboutFerenczis experiments in mutual analysis had Margaret not burned the letters. . . .