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Turn of Fortune in Psychoanalysis: The 1924 Rank Debates and the Origins of Hermeneutic Psychoanalysis

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The history of psychoanalysis can be characterized by conflicts that besides their personal content meant a closure and an opening in the development of the theorecial and practical (self )understanding of the discipline. The 1923-24 conflict that resulted in the separation of Rank from the movement and showed the first signs of uneasiness against the mainstream of psychoanalysis in Ferenczi's approach is relatively less known. However, its theoretical, or more general: discoursive impact on psychoanalysis was enormous.The debate took place among the top leaders of the movement, Rank and Ferenczi on one side, Jones, Abraham, Sachs on the other. In the center of the discussion there were two books, The Trauma of Birth by Rank and the The Development of Psychoanalysis by Ferenczi and Rank. With the help of documents I try to show that Freud first supported his Vienna-Budapest friends, later changed over to the other camp. As a general effect, I suggest that this debate resulted in the withdrawal from the earlier more hermeneutic-dialogical, therapy centered psychoanalysis toward a medical, objective, systematic and metapsychology oriented discipline. Besides the general theoretical change the power centers of psychoanalysis shifted toward West, Vienna and Budapest was substituted first by Berlin, later by London and New York.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 1998

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