'Wild' Psycho-Analysis

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In a letter to Ferenczi dated October 27, 1910, Freud described this short text as a "little didactic paper" (vol. 1, p. 229). In " 'Wild' Psycho-Analysis," Freud described a consultation with a divorced woman who had come to him complaining of the crude advice given to her by her regular doctor, who, invoking the authority of psychoanalysis, had told her that she could remedy her anxiety only by returning to her husband, taking a lover, or masturbating.

Freud used this example to make several points. First, he stressed that, contrary to the claims of some of its detractors, psychoanalysis took "sexuality" to mean more than just sexual relations, and he preferred to use the word in a broader sense equivalent to that the verb "to love." Second, he reasserted the sound basis for distinguishing the "actual neuroses" from those neuroses for which psychoanalysis was indicated, and he recalled that the analyst's task is not just to explain the psychic causes of their conditions to patients, but also, and more importantly, to weaken the resistances that prevented them from discovering those causes for themselves. Psychoanalysis required an extended contact and the establishment of a transference relationship, without which the sudden revelation of secrets is "technically objectionable" (p. 226), even if on occasion the outcome is more positive than that achieved by means of a pseudo-scientific explanation. In this connection, Freud evoked the notion of tact, which would later become the subject of an article by Ferenczi (1955).

Finally, because Freud's case involved a doctor who had not been psychoanalytically trained, he was able to point out that psychoanalytic technique could not be "learnt from books" but had to be "learnt from those who are already proficient in it" (p. 226). He also took this opportunity to announce the creation, in March 1910 at the Second Psycho-Analytical Congress in Nuremberg, of "an International Psycho-Analytical Association, to which its members declare their adherence by the publication of their names."

Freud would return to the necessity of psychoanalytic training in The Question of Lay Analysis (1926e), where he observed that "doctors form a large contingent of quacks in psychoanalysis" (p. 230).

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Abstinence/rule of abstinence; American Psychoanalytic Association; Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut; Groddeck, Georg Walther; International Psychoanalytical Association; Sexuality; Tact.

Source Citation

Freud, Sigmund. (1910k). "Über "wilde" Psychoanalyse," Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, 1, 91-95; GW, 7: 118-125; 'Wild' psycho-analysis. SE, 11: 219-227.


Ferenczi, Sándor. (1955). The elasticity of psycho-analytic technique. In his Final contributions to the problems and methods of psycho-analysis (pp. 87-101). London: Hogarth and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. (Original work published 1928)

Freud, Sigmund. (1926e). The question of lay analysis. SE, 20: 177-250.

Freud, Sigmund, and Ferenczi, Sándor. (1993-2000). The Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Sándor Ferenczi (3 vols.; Peter T. Hoffer, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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'Wild' Psycho-Analysis

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