Honesty

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**Honesty**

“‘Just think what it would mean,’ Ferenczi wrote to Freud in 1910, ‘if one could tell everyone the truth, one’s father, teacher, neighbour, and even the king. All fabricated, imposed authority would go to the devil – what is rightful would remain natural.’ Ferenczi understood like nobody else, even Freud perhaps, the revolutionary potential of psychoanalysis. He knew that people speaking differently to each other changes the world (it is noticeable, though, that the people he wants to speak the truth to, in so far as they are explicitly gendered, are men). Ferenczi doesn’t tell us why or how being able to tell everyone the truth – whatever one conceives that to be – would destroy those forms of oppressive authority. But it is as if Freud, in his reply to this letter, hears this s a wish, which it must also have been, for freer talk between the two of them. Freud was certainly, as Ferenczi was quick to tell him, father, teacher, and king to him. ‘I feel myself to be a match for anything,’ Freud replies cannily, ‘and approve of the overcoming of my homosexuality, with the result being greater independence.’ For Freud, freedom , at least consciously, was in overcoming, silencing, his homosexual self; for Firenczi, independence would be in its free expression. Freud sensed, I think, that Ferenczi’s fantasy of honesty, of people saying anything and everything to each other, was also a fantasy of symbiosis, of there being no differences between people (if we tell each other everything, it is as though we never leave each other out). And yet, in psychoanalytic treatment, one can begin to understand how speaking freely has become a mortal danger for someone. Saying whatever comes into one’s mind was something Freud believed one should do in analysis; Ferenczi wanted the psychoanalytic relationship to be the paradigm for social relations. But it would have to be a version of psychoanalysis in which the analyst could tell the patient whatever was on his mind as well. Mutual interpretation, and mutual free-association. No kings.” Terrors and Experts by Adam Phillips