Sándor Ferenczi’s mutual analysis with Elizabeth Severn—the patient known as R.N. in the Clinical Diary—is one of the most controversial and consequential episodes in the history of psychoanalysis. In his latest groundbreaking work, Peter L. Rudnytsky draws on a trove of archival sources to provide a definitive scholarly account of this experiment, which constitutes a paradigm for relational psychoanalysis, as Freud’s self-analysis does for classical psychoanalysis.
In Part 1, Rudnytsky tells the story of Severn’s life and traces the unfolding of her ideas, culminating in The Discovery of the Self. He shows how her book contains disguised case histories not only of Ferenczi and Severn herself—and thereby forms an indispensable companion volume to Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary—but also of Severn’s daughter Margaret, an internationally acclaimed dancer whose history of childhood sexual abuse uncannily replicated Severn’s own. Part 2 compares Severn to Clara Thompson and Izette de Forest as transmitters of Ferenczi’s legacy, sets the record straight about Ferenczi’s final illness, and reveals how Severn went beyond Freud and Groddeck in her capacity as Ferenczi’s analyst. Finally, in Part 3, Rudnytsky delineates the contrast between Freud and Ferenczi as men and thinkers and makes it clear why he agrees with Erich Fromm that Ferenczi’s example demonstrates how Freud’s attitude need not be that of all analysts.
The first comprehensive study of Ferenczi’s mutual analysis with Severn, this book is a profound reexamination of Ferenczi’s relationship to Freud and an impassioned defense of Severn and Ferenczi’s views on the nature and treatment of trauma. It will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, especially to relational analysts, self psychologists, and trauma theorists.