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Number 1: Spring 2008

Insult and Identity

Fedja Dalagija

However, the followers, even faithful contemporary followers of Freud like Ferenczi, adopt a different language. Thus Ferenczi refers not to homosexuality but to the problem of homosexuality (Ferenczi 1909: 168-174). In a posthumously published 1909 paper entitled ‘More About Homosexuality’, Ferenczi describes his treatment of two homosexuals, the ‘inhibited’ and the ‘uninhibited’ homosexual (i.e. the practising and the non-practising) and shows a clear preference for the inhibited one ‘who at least has some religious scruples, namely fear of hell’. This one makes better progress.

Moreover his interest in curing homosexuality is very personal given his exceptionally close erotic bond with Freud (who treats him like a pathetic wife). Their correspondence shows that both were aware of this fact and discussed as if it were a problem–hence perhaps, the problem of homosexuality. Ferenczi’s paper contains a mixture of popular prejudice and poorly formulated psychoanalytic concepts. It reads as follows:

Homosexuals love women too strongly (terrible intensity, mostly a sadistic colouring of love, perverse fantasies)… The inhibited patient … is making real progress… The left half of his body is similar to that of his mother, while the right half is male, himself. The two halves copulate. His father is dead, murdered. (In his unconscious now he himself and now his mother figures as the murderer.) He carries all these things over into the transference:

(a)    he puts me in his father’s place and murders me a hundred times a day;

(b)    he puts himself in my place and makes me copulate with my mother; or

(c)    he identifies me with himself and himself with his mother and lets himself copulate through me. (Ferenczi 1909 168-9)

And so on. It could be regarded as a mitigating factor in the production of her theories, if we recall that Melanie Klein underwent an analysis with Ferenczi. His dramatic and exaggerated descriptions of murder, mayhem and copulation, the bodies split into two sexes along a horizontal line, all apparently taking place in the unconscious before being carried over into the transference read like a parody of Kleinian analysis. On a more serious note, as the extract from Ferenczi above indicates,