From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Born Sándor Fraenkel in Miskolc, Hungary, to Baruch Fraenkel, a Polish-Jewish man from Kraków, and Rosa Eibenschütz, from a Polish-Jewish family that settled in Vienna. Sandor magyarized his name to Ferenczi. In his works he came to believe that his patients' accounts of sexual abuse as children were truthful, having verified those accounts through other patients in the same family. This, among other reasons, resulted in a break with Sigmund Freud. He was president of the International Psychoanalytical Association from 1918 to 1919.
Prior to this break he was a member of the inner circle of psychoanalysis and was notable for working with the most difficult of patients and for developing a theory of more active intervention than is usual in psychoanalytic practice. In the early 1920s, criticizing Freud's "classical" method of neutral interpretation, Ferenczi collaborated with Otto Rank to create a "here-and-now" psychotherapy that, through Rank's personal influence, led the American Carl Rogers to conceptualize person-centered therapy (Kramer 1995). Ferenczi has found some favor in modern times among the followers of Jacques Lacan as well as among relational psychoanalysts in the United States. Relational analysts read Ferenczi as anticipating their own clinical emphasis on mutuality (intimacy), intersubjectivity, and the importance of the analyst's countertransference.
Ernest Jones, a biographer of Freud, termed Ferenczi as "mentally ill" at the end of his life, famously ignoring Ferenczi's battle with pernicious anemia, which killed him in 1933. Though desperately ill with the then-untreatable disease, Ferenczi managed to deliver his most famous paper, "Confusion of Tongues" to the 12th International Psycho-Analytic Congress in Wiesbaden, Germany, on September 4, 1932.
In 2002 Ferenczi's reputation was revived by publication of Disappearing and Reviving: Sandor Ferenczi in the History of Psychoanalysis One of the book's chapters dealt with the tragic nature of the relationship between Freud and Ferenczi.
Ferenczi's work has strongly influenced theory and praxis within the interpersonal-relational movement in American psychoanalysis, as typified by psychoanalysts at the William Alanson White Institute.