Sunday, November 9, 2014

Carol Tosone - Sandor Ferenczi and Short-Term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Sandor Ferenczi, a psychoanalytic pioneer and practitioner, suggested changes in psychoanalytic technique which would shorten the length of psychoanalysis. His introduction of "active therapy" involved increased activity from both the patient and analyst as a means to facilitate the exploration of unconscious material. The psychoanalyst prescribed the performance or cessation of certain behaviors, thus instituting active measures which made the patient a full participant in the psychoanalytic process.

Interpretation, Ferenczi contended, was an active intervention which interrupted the patient's psychic activity, leading to the uncovering of repressed thoughts and ideas. In collaboration with Rank, Ferenczi underscored the importance of here-and-now transference interpretations and emphasized the emotional experiences of the patient in
the transference, rather than the sole intellectual recovery of memories. Ferenczi noted that intellectual discovery without affect can serve as resistance.

Ferenczi's central ideas on active psychoanalytic treatment and interpretation are the cornerstone of modem dynamic short-term treatment. His ideas have been lauded and incorporated into the works of modern short-term therapists, such as Davanloo, Mann, and Sifneos. Ferenczi's emphasis on the importance of present life events in psychoanalytic treatment is currently receiving much attention in the psychotherapeutic community. This can be seen in the emphasis on the treatment of Axis I disorders and symptomatology, as well as the process of maintaining a process in most models of short-term treatment.

Sandor Ferenczi's incessant drive to improve psychoanalytic methodology has provided inspiration to modem short-term therapists. While Davanloo and others have had the benefit of years of development in research, theory, and technique, it was Ferenczi who pioneered these efforts and who served as a role model. His courage and experimental spirit embody the essence of psychoanalytic inquiry, and have, in my estimation, earned him the title of "Forerunner of Modem Short-Term Psychotherapy."


Carol Tosone, Ph.D. (1997). Sándor Ferenczi: Forerunner of Modern Short-Term Psychotherapy, Psychoanalytic Social Work, 4:23-41

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