I argue that the event of crystallizing an individual auctorial voice from multiple exchanges and conversations is not a benign one.
A psychoanalytic reading of the disappearance or disavowal of certain voices in the field is just as important as imagining new non-individual forms of authorship. My pursuit here is not to look at the forgotten individual authors, but at smaller or greater collaborations, at generative dyads. What is creating this proliferation of fragmented stories is the trauma history of psychoanalysis, which remains largely unacknowledged. Here, Freud's dislocation and his death in England have a central place.
The Balint—Eichholz correspondence counts as such a lateral history. It enables us to see Balint's epistemic style at work, in the act of construing two concepts that are at the core of his own theory of object relationality: ocnophil and philobat. The first frame is a discussion of the practices of the Budapest School of psychoanalysis, focusing on Balint's collaborations and creations, and on the particular kind of multi-relationality that characterized his formative years. The second frame is a linguistic portrait of Balint, which illuminates why Balint was able to sustain the creative dyad that led to an adventure into the Greek language, and to the naming of the ocnophil and the philobat.
As we will see, Balint lures Eichholz 4 into the adventure of naming psychic states, in an act of faith that the psychoanalytic objects at hand are transmissible to other disciplines, that they can be understood by non-psychoanalysts, and that they can acquire a name through a conversation that happens across fields of knowledge and across languages.
A fascinating detail of this correspondence is that the two distinct conceptions of language of the two men clash creatively, with Eichholz being puzzled by Balint's associationist and non-arbitrary theory of language. Michael Balint's psychoanalytic formative home was Budapest, although his official psychoanalytic formation took place during his years of exile in Berlin, between and , at a time when the political climate in Hungary was becoming more and more difficult for its Jewish population.
In Budapest, the psychoanalytic beginnings were marked by a uniquely robust and effervescent pluridisciplinarity. While this appointment was short-lived, and it was revoked after only one month in the heat of the political events in Hungary, it did reflect the presence of psychoanalysis in Hungarian cultural life.
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Ferenczi was lecturing to full amphitheatres and to an enthusiastic audience. The voices of psychoanalysts were also heard in the national press, as they were often consulted on a great variety of topics, from psychopathology to matters of everyday life. While Michael had dedicated his interest to medicine and chemistry, Alice had a keen interest in both anthropology and psychoanalysis. In , it is Alice who lends him Totem and Taboo , one of Balint's introductions to psychoanalysis, alongside the Three Essays in the Theory of Sexuality.
In , Balint also heard Ferenczi's university lectures. In the preface to Primary Love and Psycho-Analytic Technique , published in , Balint gives us a description of the extent of his intellectual collaboration with Alice, and of the kind of psychoanalytic dyad they were part of:.
Starting with our shared enthusiasm for Totem and Taboo till her death in , Alice and I read, studied, lived, and worked together. Quite often it was just chance that decided which of us should publish a particular idea. Balint, , p. From an early point in his engagement with psychoanalysis, Michael Balint was thus inclined to become involved in intense dyadic exchanges, whose modes of creativity are readable only while thinking outside the form of the individual author.
There is certainly an Alice—Michael dyad that is worth investigating. What is notable about Balint's period in Berlin is that, apart from beginning his psychoanalytic training and pursuing a doctorate in natural sciences, he had the initiative, in and , of experimenting with the psychotherapy of patients affected by organic diseases. He saw patients suffering from asthma, peptic ulcer, thyrotoxicosis and obesity.
It is with these early pursuits that he established himself as one of the pioneers of psychosomatic medicine. Upon his return to Budapest, in , he initially encountered difficulties in obtaining support for continuing his project of psychoanalysis in hospitals, with patients suffering from organic illnesses Balint, But another idea took shape, and occupied the minds and hearts of the psychoanalysts in Budapest: the opening of a psychoanalytic clinic. Ferenczi had been hoping for such a clinic since In an interview, Balint evokes the difficulties around creating this new institution:.
I got the permission, after a long struggle with the authorities.
Everyone was against it, of course, the medical profession, the university, the General Medical Council. Eventually we got the permission and we opened, and we had a very nice institute, with quite a good load of work. Swerdloff, , p. In the political landscape of interwar Hungary, the Polyclinic remained on the margin, in tension with the university and the medical establishment, and under political scrutiny.
By , when Balint was directing the clinic, a policeman in civilian clothes started attending their meetings and taking notes of everything that was said.
Landscapes Of The Dark History Trauma Psychoanalysis English Edition
The Budapest Polyclinic stood apart from other early psychoanalytic clinics in that it regarded therapy as its primary mission, with training coming second. This order of priorities was discussed at length by its members, but it passed the test of collective agreement. We could say that the Polyclinic had a substantial autonomy from the Society: it was a fully-fledged therapeutic and training establishment.
Balint got involved energetically in securing this state of affairs. Relying on some private subsidies from benefactors, the clinic offered psychoanalysis to those who could not afford it. It also paid the candidates who undertook clinical work at the clinic, which opened further possibilities to train psychoanalysts less able to sustain their training financially.
On the whole, the work that went on at the Polyclinic showed great awareness of the social issues of the time. In the midst of this dense psychoanalytic environment, Balint found the energies to reinitiate his project of reaching out to medical doctors and training them into psychoanalytic reflexivity. At the Polyclinic, he started a seminar for general medical practitioners. In this way, Balint was also hoping to enlarge the circle of psychoanalysts, by attracting new candidates Hopkins, , p. Balint was still uncertain about the most suitable format for organizing this encounter between psychoanalysis and medicine.
He had the intuition that the more productive approach would be to learn by practice and case presentations, and he experimented with a seminar dedicated to exploring the psychotherapeutic possibilities found in the everyday work of the medical doctors. This text is strikingly ahead of its time, and it manages to articulate a critique of medicalization that maintains its relevance to this day.
Here, Balint criticizes the fiction of the localization of the disease sedes morbi , which assumes a pathological alteration in a particular function of the body. Thus, the task of the doctor becomes to discover and to attend to this impaired function Balint, , p. As a result:. In the eyes of the doctor, the patient becomes an insensitive machine, a skilful combination of cleverly fitted parts; the totality of the person, a human being with his own goals and failures, his joys and sorrows, has practically vanished from their thinking.
The exile to Manchester, from to , brought loss and stasis. Michael lost Alice to a sudden death shortly after his arrival in the United Kingdom, and his letters of these years attest to the flatness of the period. In a letter to Judit Dupont-Dormandi, written on 21 February , he speaks of his longing for the creative adventures in thought that he lived through with Alice:. I have many good relations, … but no friend as yet. Sometimes the loneliness falls on me so heavily that it is difficult to endure. You know, just these tiny half-born ideas one only can catch during a conversation, which we immediately presented to each other with Alice in order to get criticism, recognition or just encouragement, now these ideas just float around.
Dupont, , pp.
In the decade of the s, with his move to London, Michael Balint entered his second creative dyad, that with Enid Eichholz, who would become his wife, his companion and his co-author. In an interview collected by Peter Rudnytsky, Enid gives an account of the extent of the intellectual collaboration that resulted in writing The Basic Fault :. We discussed things. We wrote The Basic Fault together, but I didn't sign it. He wanted me to. Just before he died, I promised him that if there were a second edition, I would say Michael and Enid Balint.
I never did, and I couldn't after he died. And I don't agree with it, though in fact I wrote quite a lot of it.
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All the bits around the malignant and benign forms of regression were mine, not his. That was my idea. Rudnytsky, , p. It is worth pondering why Michael would have left such a significant rectification to Enid, instead of co-signing the work with her in the first place. Perhaps Michael was not sufficiently reflexive about the politics of over-writing this collaboration. However, what is significant is that this dyad produced sufficient traces to allow for its reconstitution from written drafts, letters and interviews, instead of leaving a complete opacity around its specific creativities.
It is also worth noting that Michael Balint was used to the presence of highly creative women psychoanalysts from his Budapest years.
Dark Times: Politics, History and Mourning - a Psychoanalytic Perspective
In the couple Alice—Michael Balint, it was Alice who was seen as one of the most promising voices of Hungarian psychoanalysis. Michael had to work to establish himself as her equal. In what follows, we unpack another crucial aspect of Michal Balint's epistemic style. His relation to different fields of knowledge and practices necessarily passed through his relationship with languages.
Michael Balint was a polyglot. Pietr Judson has aptly shown how the Austro-Hungarian Empire creatively construed its unity across many divides of language, religion and custom.
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Balint himself would have felt this double belonging. English was his language of exile, a language for the second part of his life. He also spoke French and had a good understanding of Latin, and some of Greek. There is something in Balint's linguistic portrait that points beyond his own intellectual gifts, and speaks about the beginnings of psychoanalysis. An overwhelming number of psychoanalysts belonging to the first generations did not speak their mother tongue in their everyday life and in their clinical practice by the end of their lives.
In one of the boxes held at the Balint Archive, in London, a striking materiality records the major linguistic reinvention that Balint went through, after his move to the United Kingdom, in This box contains his patient diaries over 45 years.
They are small objects, fitting comfortably in the palm of one's hand. Between and , they are of Hungarian make. The only diary made in Germany is for the year , marking his stay in Berlin.